A controversial decision to hand over the majority of Lincolnshire’s libraries to volunteers has attracted widespread criticism.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive committee this morning approved plans to make library services more efficient.
Now, up to 40 smaller libraries throughout the county face being run by their local communities with the council staffing 15 larger buildings in central locations.
But the decision, which will also include job losses, was quickly attacked by its critics.
Chris Pain, of the UKIP Lincolnshire political group, was quick to voice his anger at the move.
Pain said: “The Lincolnshire administration have acted against the interests and wishes of the public which was highlighted in the flawed consultation process concerning the closure of Lincolnshire libraries.
“The final straw was what appeared to be a whip vote against both common sense and the future of our libraries by the administration.
“Today’s decision by the executive means that democracy and accountability are dead and our actions in the council chambers are just a charade and a total waste of taxpayers money.”
Robin Hunter-Clarke, UKIP councillor, said: “It is unbelievable that nine councillors out of the 77 elected members can decide and make a decision on something so important as our library service throughout our county when the people of Lincolnshire have rejected their proposals. It is disgraceful and things cannot continue like this.
“There is a clear democratic deficit which needs to be tackled and people must be made aware of this. The decision should have been made free and fairly by the full council.”
A revised proposal, constructed by Pauline Palmer and put forward by the Lincoln Independents via her husband, councillor Steve Palmer, was rejected by the council for a number of reasons.
Pain added: “The alternative proposal by Pauline not only kept the libraries open with fully trained librarians, with longer opening hours, they also preserved more and longer stops on the mobile service.
“More importantly it saved a quarter of a million pounds more than the administration’s proposal. In the scrutiny meeting, elected councillors were not allowed the opportunity to question LCC’s proposal or to go through the alternative proposal.”
Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, defended the nine-strong committee’s decision, saying: “We are likely to end up with even more static libraries than we started with.
“The council has also extended its deadline for expressions of interest, giving people until the end of January to put in a bid for their local library.
“Some people will not be happy and that is always the case in politics. You have to make some very difficult decisions at times. “But times are changing dramatically and they will continue to do over the next few years.”