Public meeting to be held in Northampton this weekend to fight library cuts proposal

St James library is one of 21 book-lending services, which might close.
St James library is one of 21 book-lending services, which might close.

The chair of a Northampton residents association has written to the leader of Northamptonshire County Council to outline growing concerns about his local book-lending service often being closed at short notice.

Following the recent news that 21 libraries in Northamptonshire could shut for good, St James Residents Association chair, Graham Croucher is trying to establish - by penning a letter to Heather Smith (Con, Oundle) - whether short notice library closures in St James might mean that the service will close permanently.

With closure proposals in mind, 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.

Graham Croucher, chair of St James Residents’ Association said: “Enough is enough, in 2011 this community in St James rose to the challenge of supporting its library and met the council half way in delivering a service for the community, and a library that has been recognised nationally. It has always been a challenge as the service has never been funded properly.

"With the range of service provided now, more people are dependent on our library more than ever, NCC are putting lives at risk. We call on NCC to withdraw these brutal proposals immediately.

"We also call on local county councillors, Gareth Eales, and Pinder Chauhan to raise the issue and support the community, in addition we call on the MP Andrew Lewer to intervene. People should also take part in the consultation by asking for an option four, instead of the three suggested by NCC, which will ultimately result in their libraries closing.”

Councillor Heather Smith was invited to the meeting but has declined, says Mr Croucher, and Andrew Lewer MP (Northampton South) has also been invited to attend.

Ellen Tero, chair of Friends of St James Library said: “I have personally witnessed many success stories emanate from this library as a result of the community using the library.

"Many people are dependent on us. It is a safe haven. Any closure, however temporary has far reaching effects.

"This community needs its library open more than ever, but the community cannot assume responsibility for the library, that is simply not sustainable without any support or funding from the local authority.”

St James Residents Association led a campaign in 2011 to save St James library from closure, which proved to be a success at the time.

Mr Croucher added: "Vulnerable people and other people who depend on the library are now being left out on a limb with nowhere to turn to because of the dire financial situation of NCC and this has real consequences for a community that is already suffering from high crime levels, deprivation and closure of local shops and banks. We cannot afford to lose our much loved library."

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