Library groups react to Northamptonshire County Council budget slash

A library in Northamptonshire will become a community interest company and will keep its building in use for the public good.
Protesters, in November last year, stood side-by-side in a bid to keep their beloved library openProtesters, in November last year, stood side-by-side in a bid to keep their beloved library open
Protesters, in November last year, stood side-by-side in a bid to keep their beloved library open

Chair of the Friends of Moulton Library Geoff Paul said plans are in the pipeline to start Moulton library up as a community interest company and will continue to staff the premises.

He understands there will be service level agreement reached between Northamptonshire County Council and Moulton library to replenish the library books on site every month.

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He said: "We will undertake to run it. It will be criminal to allow a building that's less than a year old to be vacant.

"It is a social hub from age zero to 90.

"It definitely is a huge asset to the community. I happen to believe in it. It generally is a jewel in the crown of all Northamptonshire libraries."

The authority had faced heavy public criticism after it revealed on Tuesday that 21 of its county libraries would only be able to open on one day per week with immediate effect.

Members have had to cut all but essential spending after a S114 notice was issued imposing strict spending controls.

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Separately from that, on Wednesday the council also decided to cut its libraries budget for 2018/19, which meant that eight large libraries would be retained and a different 21 libraries would close.

It also listed eight “medium” libraries which would be retained.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “Following the approval of the final budget for 2018/19, we are now holding discussions with community groups, which expressed an interest in taking on their local library about whether they wish to proceed with establishing an independent library outside of the statutory Northamptonshire Libraries service.

“As part of these discussions, we are providing the groups with the necessary information to enable them to assess whether they are able to provide an independent service moving forward.”

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Chair of the Friends of Abington Library Jan Anderson will see her library close for good as part of the budget cuts. She said: "I'm absolutely livid, I can't believe they have done it. The Government, and locally, people talk about literacy and loneliness and none of them seems to matter anymore.

"Elderly people come in here for someone to talk to. I'm a volunteer at the library, we all know them by name, they know they will get a welcome.

"People come in for books, but they also come into use computers, get bus passes and photocopies, which we print off for them. It's a nice building, it's a lovely, friendly building - my husband has been going there since he was three-years-old."

Some of the clubs hosted at the library for under ones include Rhyme-time and babies can also have their development assessments carried out by health visitors.

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Children under five can take part in Play and Learn and Mum and Tots groups while older children can get stuck into science, and homework club with free internet access and print-outs.

She added: "Not everyone can afford to buy a book and they have cut the bus subsidies and that makes me really angry. It always seems to be the poorest people who suffer."

Pensioners who use the book-lending service in Abington can also ask librarians for an IT buddy to give them a helping hand on the web, how to download books, apply for a Blue Badge.

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