Councillor attacks library cuts

Coningsby and Tattershall Library EMN-140709-191623001
Coningsby and Tattershall Library EMN-140709-191623001

A controversial decision to hand the running of libraries to volunteer groups will “rip the heart” out of rural communities.

That is the stark warning from County Councillor Colin Mair who has admitted Coningsby/Tattershall Library looks almost certain to close.

Coun Mair (UKIP), who represents the Tattershall Castle ward, said he was bitterly opposed to the County Council’s handling of the libraries saga which he said “stank.”

The authority first hatched plans to cut back the library service last year, saying it needed to save money.

That led to storms of protests and a High Court defeat for the council.

However, the Conservative controlled council has back proposals calling for the initial proposals to be implemented.

The decision has prompted fears about the future of several libraries, including Coningsby/Tattershall.

Although in theory it is possible the library could be run by volunteers, Coningsby Town Council and Tattershall Parish Council have rejected the idea of funding the facility.

Coun Mair said he fully understood why the two local councils had arrived at their decision, stressing it would add significant sums to council tax bills.

Instead, he vented his fury at the County Council, claiming it had not listened to the views of residents.

Coun Mair told the News: “I have fought tooth and nail to keep the library open.

“It’s not just about books on shelves. The library is also used as a hub for the District Council, the County Council and as a Tourist Information Centre.

“You can book National Bus company tickets. A lot of local groups and organisations meet there.

“In fact, it’s the only place where a lot of people can go and have a chat in warm and friendly surroundings.

“Now, it looks like it is all going to end. The attitude of the County Council - and the way they have handled this whole episode - stinks.

“They haven’t even looked at the other options.

“One option on the table would have kept libraries open and saved money.

“But they (the County Council) aren’t interested.

“They aren’t bothered about what people think.”

Coun Mair said he was worried about the alternatives for regular users of the library building.

He added: “It looks like they will have to go to either Horncastle, Boston or Woodhall Spa.

“But not everyone has access to a car and public transport in this area is another issue.

“What are these people supposed to do? Where are they supposed to go? There’s nothing for them.

“The people who have arrived at this decision should hang their heads in shame.

“All they are doing is ripping the heart out of communities like Coningsby and Tattershall.”

Campaigners are still fighting the anticipated cuts but with no County Council elections scheduled this year, Coun Mair said he held out little or no hope of a U-turn.

He said it looked increasingly likely the library would close, possibly in September.

Under the proposals, it is still not clear what will happen to Wragby Library. Volunteers have come forward to express an interest in running it but funding has been an issue. There are also concerns about a potential location,

No further changes are planned at Horncastle Library - where opening hours were cut last year- or Woodhall Spa Library.

The County Council says communities left without a permanent library will be able to call on the mobile service but there are fears that will also face cuts.

There are also worries about the future of the Mobile Library service which offers a lifeline to people living in villages. The frequency of some visits has been reduced amid fears of further cuts.