‘Reluctant’ decision made on future of Leicestershire library

Books on shelf in library
-Credit: (Image: 2010 Diyosa Carter / Getty Images)

The permanent closure of a Leicestershire has been confirmed. Cabinet members on Leicestershire County Council “reluctantly” voted today, Friday, May 24, to shut Ibstock Library, which until recently was run by a group of volunteers.

Members of the group told the council in September last year that they could not continue in their roles. Since then, the hunt has been on to find a new team to keep the doors open.

Two expressions of interest were received during a consultation which began at the end of last year. However, one group had simply “intended to show support for the library, rather than proposing to run the library”. Their submission was subsequently withdrawn. The other group’s offer to take on the role has now been rejected.

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A spokesperson for the county council said there were “sustainability concerns” over the second group's ability to run the library, particularly in relation to finance; the group was not able to show sufficient income to cover the operating costs of the library.

A mobile library has been visiting the village each week since the volunteers handed back their keys in March. This will continue to serve residents, but its visits will be reduced to once every three weeks. This would be reviewed in six months time to see if improvements could be made, the council said.

Coalville library is able to cope with additional users and Ibstock residents will be signposted there as well, the spokesperson added. It is open 56 hours a week and is around four miles from the village, they said.

Cabinet member for libraries Christine Radford said during the meeting: “I’m reluctant, but I’ve got to support the recommendation to close the library in Ibstock.” She added: “I want to thank the trustees and volunteers at Ibstock for their sterling work in the past few years. They did a fantastic job.”

Louise Richardson, councillor for Enderby and Lubbesthorpe, said: “I don’t think there’s any other option [than to close the library] at the moment and at least this still gives a provision to residents in that area.”

Chairman of the meeting Councillor Deborah Taylor said: “I think we’re all feeling the same. It's really reluctantly that we’re having to take this decision. But with no group to run the community library, we don’t really have any other option but to close it.”

The Ibstock Library space is now expected to be emptied, although Ibstock Junior School would continue to use the other half of the building. Future use of the empty space would be considered by the council in due course.