Changes at Northamptonshire libraries despite review pause

Irchester Library

Northamptonshire County Council has been making redundancies within its libraries service, despite having publicly paused the decision to close down the majority of its libraries.

A number of library managers have been made redundant by the county authority in recent weeks, although the authority will not say how many staff have lost their jobs.

The authority lost a legal battle last month (August) to close down 21 of the 36 libraries it funds across the country after a High Court judge ruled that it had made the decision unlawfully.

Before the court date the authority had halted the libraries review process, which had proposed to make the libraries independent and run by voluntary community organisations.

However despite the official pause, changes are happening within the service as staff are leaving and volunteers are beginning to take on extra responsibilities and become keyholders.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We made a decision to pause the proposed changes to the local library service for further consideration and are continuing to work closely with community groups, partners and interested parties within the wider context of the council’s budget recovery programme.

“No decisions have been made yet.

“Unfortunately however, some library managers were made redundant as part of a restructure agreed prior to the issuing of a second Section 114 notice.”

In July the authority’s chief finance officer Mark McLaughlin issued a  114 notice, which is a warning that the authority may not be able to balance its books at the end of the financial year in April.

A report to be considered by cabinet members tomorrow (Tuesday) at County Hall states the deficit this year is £59.6m.

This is without the £12m reserves that the authority also has to put back into its bank.

A plan about what services will be reduced ro make the savings will be made public at the end of the month and decided on by cabinet members in October.

It is unknown what will happen with the county’s libraries or how their operations may change.

The previous review had resulted in the council proposing to close down 21 libraries and either sell off or rent the buildings that it directly owned.

This idea is now off the table and no other options have as yet been made public.

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