Senior councillors have voted to go ahead with controversial cuts to library services in Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive members today approved changes that will cut almost £2 million from the library budget.
The plans mean volunteers or community groups will have to come forward to keep libraries in Kirton, Donington and Coningsby open.
Boston’s main library faces a cut of six hours to its opening hours – but up to 102 posts could now be lost.
Speaking after today’s meetings Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “So far, we’ve had expressions of interest for 25 existing libraries, as well as seven communities wanting to create brand-new facilities. That means we’re 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.”
The council says communities will get a compensation support package including more than £5,000 per year to put towards their running costs and ongoing professional advice.
Groups can also get a one-off grant of £15,000 to help set up their facility, with the council maintaining the exterior of the buildings on which it has the freehold.
The council has also promised to run the existing libraries for up to a year, giving volunteers time to plan how they can keep them open.
The plans were slightly changed after a 13-week consultation which saw a 23,000-singature petition handed over in opposition to the move.
Coun Worth said: “One thing that was clear from the consultation was that rural communities valued their mobile services, so 146 more mobile stops were included in the revised proposals.
“Also, younger people said that they wanted to see online services developed further, so that is something we’re going to explore, and we believe it may be possible to increase the number of computers available in our council-run libraries.”
More than 6,000 people took part in the consultation, with the council also receiving a number of letters, emails and petitions.
Coun Worth added: “We realise there were some people who wanted services to remain as they are, but with £2m less to spend that just wasn’t possible.
“However, I’m confident that we can now continue to provide a comprehensive library service across the county, but one that gives much better value for money.
“I’d like to thank all those communities that have offered their support, and I look forward to working with them. I’m sure that together we can create a modern library service that’s tailored to local needs.”
More information on the plans can be found at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.