Future of five Northampton libraries on the table as county council launches second consultation

Northamptonshire County Council aims to hand over responsibility for 22 libraries to local communities.
Northamptonshire County Council aims to hand over responsibility for 22 libraries to local communities.

A consultation on the future of five Northampton libraries will launch tomorrow as the county plans to pass them on to community groups.

Northamptonshire County Council is in the process of handing responsibility for 22 of the county's libraries over to volunteers and residents.

The cash-strapped local authority has run consultations since last year to ask residents for their thoughts on 28 of the county's 36 libraries.

It comes as the authority must make savings of £42.9m, and was banned twice from spending any money in 2018.

Now, a new consultation is launching tomorrow (January 23) to cover residents' thoughts on the last remaining eight libraries.

They are St James, Duston, Long Buckby, Far Cotton, Abington, Higham Ferrers, Finedon and Irchester.

To comment on the consultation, visit the Northamptonshire County Council website.

The proposals are for all of these libraries to be managed by their communities and become non-statutory, with the exception of Duston which will remain part of the council's statutory offer and under county council management.

The existing consultation on the first round of 28 libraries in Northamptonshire will end on February 8.

Councillor Cecile Irving-Swift, deputy leader of the county council with the responsibility for the library service, said: “At the heart of this proposal is the fact that we’ve worked with some wonderful community groups who, like us at the county council, clearly have a passion for books.

“At this stage these are simply proposals and what we need now is for people to have their say on what they think of these plans.”

The consultation will run for just over eight weeks until March 22 and there will be public engagement events at all of these except for Duston, where there is no change proposed.

Once the consultations have been completed then the county council will consider all of the responses as one and will be taking a paper to Cabinet in May with the outcome of the consultation and final proposals for Cabinet to approve.