Lincolnshire County Council is to outsource 15 libraries to not-for-profit organisation Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), after allegedly ignoring bids from the company last year, the Lincolnshire Echo has reported.
Council officials have said the decision to let GLL run the service from April 2016 will bring "significant savings" for the authority.
The decision comes after a judicial review last year in which a judge described the council's plans for library cuts as "flawed" because it had not fully investigated a bid by GLL to run its library services.
GLL will now run the county’s 15 major libraries, along with online services and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library. GLL will also support the library services delivered at around 30 community hubs currently being developed in partnership with local groups.
Cllr Nick Worth, executive member for libraries at Lincolnshire Council, said: “We’ve worked hard to get the best possible deal, and are confident that GLL can both improve our library services and deliver significant savings. In fact, we predict that once the reduction in our property costs is taken into account, this move will save us a further £500,000 or so. And that’s on top of the £1.9m we’ve already saved by introducing a new way of delivering services. At the same time, we still look set to end up with more libraries than we started with.”
Phil Dilks, Labour’s county councillor for Deeping St James and library campaigner, said: “The decision vindicates library campaigners that county council leader Martin Hill, Nick Worth, and the executive have spent the last two years rubbishing. They have also spent the last two years rubbishing GLL – they were telling us that they could not be trusted to deliver what they promised.”
Chris Symons, director of development at GLL said: “GLL is delighted to have been confirmed as the new provider of Lincolnshire’s library service. As a charitable social enterprise our ambition is to protect, develop and grow the library service. GLL have considerable experience and a fantastic track record in improving library services and we look forward to working with Lincolnshire County Council in providing a valued library service for local people.”
GLL will begin delivering library services in April 2016.