Desborough residents looking into legal challenge of planned library closure

Library books EMN-161003-162039001
Library books EMN-161003-162039001

Residents in Desborough could launch a judicial review over plans to close the town’s library.

The library is one of 13 facing closure in the north of the county, with 28 at risk in Northamptonshire.

A consultation on those proposals is under way but residents have made their first move towards legal action by setting up a fundraising page to investigate whether there is a case to answer.

Paula Holmes, from the Save Desborough Library Group, said: “We felt it was worth doing as we’ve looked at some of the criteria [for the planned closure] and there are things that are subjective.

“We want to raise the money to see if there is a case to answer and if we do we will.”

The initial target is £4,000, which will go towards instructing a barrister to review paperwork and documents, send a letter before action and advise on next steps.

A consultation on the cuts, which also include slashing the Trading Standards budget will end on January 13.

A decision will be made by councillors on February 22, but Mrs Holmes says they must move before then.

She said: “We cannot wait until February.

“It seems like if you live in one of the big towns like Northampton, Daventry or Kettering you’re alright.

“But for the rest of people you can either pay for it or you won’t get it.”

The county council say that because of significant funding pressures, they have no option but to consult on a proposed review of the current model for libraries.

They added that they are committed to maintaining a library service that continues to serve the most people who borrow items and those who use the library for other services, such as computer workshops, registration services and access to borough and district council services.

They say their proposals have been drawn up to take into account geographical location, deprivation indicators, patterns of usage, book borrowing and visitor numbers and have encouraged community groups and other interested organisations to consider whether their local library is a facility they would like to take on and develop as a community space.

But Mrs Holmes says if the county council takes on option one - which would result in Desborough Library among others closing unless they were taken on by a community group - it would only save £290,000 out of the £34.9 million savings proposed.

She said: “I know they need to save money but is that worth it?

“If you take away a service that that can have a hugely positive impact on vulnerable children, they’re going to fall into the distance because they’ve got nowhere to go.”

At the time this article was written, the fundraising page had raised £970 out of the £4,000 needed to start investigative work.

If the campaign doesn’t reach its target by January 16, all who pledged will receive their money back.

To view the fundraising page and donate, click here.