CUTS U-TURN: Twenty-one small libraries set to shut as Northamptonshire County Council announces revised budget savings

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Twenty-one small libraries in Northamptonshire are at risk of closure after the county council announced revised budget proposals which will be discussed by cabinet later today.

The new recommendation would see the county’s eight large and seven medium libraries retained, and the 21 smaller libraries closed as council-run libraries.

Community groups which expressed an interest in taking on their local library will be offered in this option.

These libraries could be run as independent libraries outside of the statutory Northamptonshire Libraries service.

The council would develop an independent library service contract which these independent libraries could buy into, such as those libraries operated in hospitals.

The full list of those that would remain open and those that are now proposed to close is here.
County council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing Cllr Sylvia Hughes said: “It is hugely regrettable that we have to consider this revised proposal for the future of the library service in Northamptonshire.

“We heard loud and clear what residents across the county told us during the 12-week consultation, but given the advisory notice issued by our auditors KPMG last week, we have little choice but to reconsider our preferred option.

“KPMG quite clearly told us that they considered our proposed budget for 2018/19 was not achievable as they felt it relied too heavily on the use of capital receipts, and so we have to revisit some of our previous proposals.

“This revised recommendation gives community groups the option to take on the contract for their local library, but given the unprecedented financial challenge we are facing due to reducing funding from central government and unparalleled demand for local services, this will now be outside of the statutory library service.”

The new recommendation will be discussed at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting today, followed by a full council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday).