Joint response from all borough and district councils on proposed library closures

Service users at Brackley Library held a protest about the proposed library changes
Service users at Brackley Library held a protest about the proposed library changes
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All of the county’s borough and district councils have come together to respond to proposals which could see up to 28 libraries close.

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) has been asking for people’s views on proposals which could see numerous county libraries close as part of cuts to save millions of pounds.

The consultation closed at the weekend, and views received during this period will include a joint response by all seven of the borough and district councils.

It has been issued on behalf of the chief executives of Corby Council, Daventry District Council, East Northamptonshire Council, Kettering Council, Northampton Borough Council, South Northamptonshire District Council and Wellingborough Council.

It says: “We are concerned that the pace with which NCC is seeking to make the proposed changes is likely to result in a low level of community willingness to take on local libraries and that the opportunity to preserve and build on those facilities will be lost.”

And the seven authorities are proposing that:

- NCC should extend the timetable so that any changes don’t come into effect until 1 April 2019 at the earliest

- It should carry out a strategic review of the value of each library in the context of the integration and localisation of health and social care services before deciding which ones might be surplus to requirements

- Further dialogue should be undertaken with town and parish councils and community groups to ensure that they have sufficient financial information for them to carry out due diligence and/or prepare a business case before deciding whether to proceed, and support should be given to them where they do not have the expertise to do that themselves

- NCC should take the lead in supporting local town and parish councils or community groups in evaluating the options. Where libraries are taken on by such organisations, NCC should build capacity and continue to work with them to ensure the libraries develop into community hubs providing the range of services that local people need

The joint response will be analysed with all of the other comments received as part of the consultation before the matter goes back to the county council’s cabinet next month.