Northampton MP has 'raised the white flag' over library closures, residents' association claims

Andrew Lewer, Northampton South MP.
Andrew Lewer, Northampton South MP.

The MP for Northampton South has told a residents' association that Northamptonshire County Council is "not in the same location to withdraw as before" when eight libraries were under threat a few years ago.

Following the recent news that 21 libraries in Northamptonshire could now close, the chair of St James residents association, Graham Croucher has invited Andrew Lewer MP to a public meeting, which is set to be held at St James community centre this weekend.

After declining the invitation to the public meeting due to a prior commitment, Mr Lewer, in response, said in an email: " As your elected MP, I do want to reiterate that I believe that we need to make the most of our efforts to keep St James Library open as the important community resource that it is.

"I want to impress upon you again, that although the county council stepped back on plans to close eight libraries a number of years ago, I know from various meetings and discussions with the county council, because of their financial position, they are not in the same location to withdraw as before.

"It is imperative therefore that we seriously explore the option of taking the library over as a community asset, and that work needs to be investigated now.

"St James Residents’ Association and the Doddridge Centre are the natural community mechanisms to explore this option. I do hope that you will seriously explore all available options on the table. As your MP, I am happy to facilitate this and be of help to you."

Mr Croucher - alongside the Friends of St James Library - has arranged to hold a public meeting on Saturday, November 4 at 10.30am at St James Community Centre to inform library lovers from all over Northampton about what they can do to fight the proposal and how they can join the campaign.

Mr Croucher, chair of St James Residents’ Association, said Mr Lewer has not advised St James Residents' Association about the support there is to help run the library if it becomes community-run.

“It's as though they are waving the white flag and giving up. We are not surprised," he said.

Phase one of the public consultation drop in event in the Northampton Borough Area will go ahead on Wednesday, November 22 between 4pm and 7:30pm in the Carnegie Room, Northampton Central Library, Abington Street.

The consultation period ends at 5pm on January 13, 2018.

Andrew Lewer, Northampton South MP said: "I was pointing out if a community take over was to be realised as an option, serious exploration talks need to be happening now should their protesting efforts fail."