Campaigners want library plan shelved

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almost half of Doncaster’s libraries could be run by community groups if controversial plans are given the go ahead by Doncaster Council.

Following a public consultation gathering feedback from more than 7,000 people a series of recommendations have been proposed. They will now be presented to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday.

They include plans for 12 of the borough’s 26 libraries to be run by community groups which would save Doncaster Council around £1.2 million a year.

But protest organisation Save Doncaster Libraries believes the consultation has not been wide enough and the proposals will not work.

Under the proposals Bawtry, Intake and Warmsworth libraries are expected to continue as community-led enterprises within the existing buildings.

Sites in Balby, Bessacarr, Edenthorpe, Wheatley and Sprotbrough would be operated in a similar community-led way along the same lines but run from different locations.

Libraries in Moorends, Rossington, Stainforth and Scawthorpe would be community-led self-service operations supported by a team of volunteers. An enhanced mobile service could be provided to Carcroft and Denaby in November if plans are approved.

Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, said: “In these difficult financial times we have worked hard to find alternative solutions to ensure we can still deliver the library services our communities need with the assistance of interested key people in each community.

“We need to concentrate the council’s limited resources on raising the standard of the 12 funded libraries so they attract a higher amount of use.

“I wish to say a big thank you to all those who have assisted in finding alternatives for the other 14 libraries. You are a credit to the borough of Doncaster.

“No-one ever talked about closing libraries but current financial constraints mean that they cannot all continue in their current form.”

But Lauren Smith, campaigner for Save Doncaster Libraries said she was “disgusted” by the proposals.

“I don’t want to sound cynical or negative but I don’t think it will work,” said Ms Smith.

“Doncaster is in no position to start having volunteer run libraries. It doesn’t have the capacity. It doesn’t have the staff structure existing to support that so I’d be very surprised if it succeeded.”

Currently, the 26 libraries cost £5.26 million to run each year, and this does not include the money needed to maintain and invest in the buildings.

The council is currently trying to find savings of £80 million over four years as part of the cuts required by central government.

Cabinet meet to discuss the proposals at a Mansion House meeting on Wednesday.