No takers for four of 21 Northamptonshire libraries under threat of closure

Four of the 21 Northamptonshire libraries under threat of closure have not had a community group or organisation come forward to save them.

Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 6:23 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:47 pm
St James library is one of 21 book-lending services which might close

Yesterday (June 25) was the deadline for independent groups to put forward bids to run the libraries which Northamptonshire County Council has said it can no longer afford to run.

Finedon library in Berry Green Road, Wollaston library in Newton Street, Far Cotton in Towcester Road, Northampton, and St James library in St James Road, Northampton, have not had any takers.

The closure of the libraries is subject to a judicial review which is expected to be heard at the high court next month (July).

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The county council decided last week (June 21) that it will not permanently close any of the threatened libraries until after the high court judge has ruled.

Seven of the 21 threatened libraries have two takeover bids from different groups.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “There were four libraries for which we received no expressions of interest by the deadline. These are Far Cotton, Finedon, St James and Wollaston.

“In respect of the libraries that did receive one or more expression of interest, we will working closely with the interested parties to progress their proposals.”

The review process in which organisations have been asked to put forward their business case has been criticised by campaigners and councillors.

Local politicians from the ruling Conservative administration have also been critical of the cabinet and the officers who  led the review have been condemned for the high hurdles they have put in the way of volunteers offering to take over the libraries.

The county council owns 12 of the under-threat libraries and could make £3.25m if the buildings are bought by community groups or sold off to other companies. 

NCC was asking for £35,000 annual rent from an independent group to run the Far Cotton library.

The authority pays just £1 a year to rent the library from Northampton borough council.

NCC is also asking for £195,000 from Irchester Parish Council to buy the library.

The council acquired the library free of charge in the 1960s. It was built by Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900s as a gift to the parish.