Nettleham Parish Council said that it will withdraw its bid to take over the community-led village library from the County Council.
Following Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to proceed with its library closures, the parish council failed to negotiate a lease agreement.
Some 90 local residents came forward to volunteer for the service in an effort to save the resource.
Nettleham Parish Council says it has made every effort to bring about establishing a community library in the village but the terms of the lease agreement were “not realistic”.
The request for a minimum 5-year lease was rejected by the county council, which insisted that its ‘Model Heads of Terms’ apply, allowing it to break the lease arrangement at any time.
The parish council added in a statement that it hopes it is not too late for any interested parties to step in.
Chairman of the Nettleham Parish Council, Terry Williams, said: “This is an extremely disappointing outcome, but the parish council was left with no choice in the matter due to the insistence of the County Council on the inclusion of a condition in the lease of the building that meant they could terminate the arrangements at the drop of a hat.”
Earlier this year Lincolnshire County Council approved plans to hand 30 libraries over to volunteers, in a bid to save £2 million at the cost of over 170 jobs.
The County Council received bids for all 30 libraries it wants to release, and all but three have been followed by a full business case. The missing three relate to areas where there were multiple bids.
The Nettleham village library also received a bid from Lincolnshire Co-operative and the County Council is working with them on their business plan.
Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “At least one full business plan has been sent in for each library, with a further seven communities wanting to create brand new facilities.
“That means we’re likely to end up with more libraries than we started with, while also making substantial savings.
“We offered the parish council a 10-year lease on the current library building.
“However, as is standard practice, this includes a clause allowing us to break the lease if the community hub is underperforming.
“This is an important clause that’s needed to ensure the public receive a quality service.
“We thank the parish council for their efforts, and we will now focus on working with Lincolnshire Co-operative who have submitted a business plan for Nettleham,” Councillor Worth added.
The following standard clauses are included in the leases:
- The landlord will be permitted to break the lease with one month written notice if it is considered by the landlord that the tenant is not fulfilling its performance of running a community activity hub.
- The landlord and the tenant will be permitted to break the lease at any time but on not less than six months prior written notice.
West Lindsey District Councillor for the Nettleham Ward, Giles McNeill, commented: “It is absurd that Netteham’s library will almost certainly close despite Nettleham Parish Council and over ninety local volunteers having come forward to continue to operate a local library.
“Nettleham Parish Council requested a slight extension in order to put together the business plan, given the delays on the part of the county council this seemed a reasonable request.
“The business plan is important because it gives the county council assurance the community-led library will be successfully delivered; a request was also made to reconsider part of the agreement between the parties.
“Nettleham Parish Council has had no option but to withdraw from the process, leaving local residents with an uncertain future for the library in the village.”