Campaigners rallying together to keep a new Northamptonshire 'flagship' library open are posing the question why has the rent been paid for the next 20 years if the building could close due to library cuts.
The future of up to 28 libraries across Northamptonshire has been put at risk as part of cost-cutting proposals - including Moulton library - which is now ramping up the fight to stay open ahead of the phrase one drop in public consultation event at Northampton Central Library today.
In October, cash-strapped council chiefs revealed a series of early budget proposals they say will save the authority £9.6 million. The authority has to put three separate proposals out to consultation - the first of which invites community groups to run 21 smaller libraries around the county, saving the council £290,000 next year. Options two and three, however, would involve simply shutting the doors of up to 28 book lending premises around the county.
In 2016, the county council’s cabinet agreed to hand £238,725 over to Moulton Parish Council to build a new community centre, which now includes a library for Moulton and the surrounding area after the former building was deemed by the authority as not fit for purpose.
A spokeswoman for The Friends of Moulton Library said: "Moulton library is not even six months old. It was purpose built by the council and the rent on it has already be paid for until 2037...yes that’s 2037.
"It was designed as a flagship library so why close it? Use it as a community hub instead. It has disabled access and ample parking, make it a viable option to be a community hub."
To keep highlighting Moulton's fighting spirit - on Saturday, December 9, the friends will be hosting a "jam-packed" fun-day, which will include, Rhymetime for children, adult and young adult book clubs and local history events - to showcase library efforts.
The event will also include a literary event, with a number of authors attending during the day, including, Gary Sheppard, Philip S Davis, Paula Harrison, Sophie Plowden.
Moulton library-goer, Pamela Dziedzom Kom said on Facebook: "We moved to Moulton two years ago with my then three year old daughter. We didn't know anywhere or anyone.
"The library was definitely a lifeline for both of us. The weekly activities were brilliant for my daughter, and for me an opportunity to get out and meet people.
"We love the new library and couldn't do without it. It has helped my daughter to develop a love for reading. The staff and volunteers are brilliant. Thanks to the library I now know a lot more about my community than Google could have ever taught me."
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “Due to the authority’s significant funding pressures, we have no option but to consult on a proposed review of the current model for Northamptonshire libraries.
“We are committed to maintaining a library service that continues to serve the most people who borrow items and those who use the library for other services, such as computer workshops, registration services and access to borough and district council services.
“The proposals have been drawn up to take into account geographical location, deprivation indicators, patterns of usage, book borrowing and visitor numbers.
“The library provision is already hosted within the community centre in Moulton, and the council’s consultation is asking whether there is further opportunity for a community-managed library option to be developed.
“We are currently consulting on the proposals and people have until January 13 to have their say. All consultation feedback will be analysed and considered, and will help councillors make a final decision at the Full Council meeting on February 22, 2018.”
The phase one drop in public consultation event for the Northampton borough area is today at Wednesday 22 November, 4pm to 7:30pm – Carnegie Room, Northampton Central Library, Abington Street, Northampton NN1 2BA.