East Northants residents may be asked to pay to save Oundle library

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Residents may be asked if they would be prepared to help pay for a library to avoid its closure.

Oundle Library could face closure under one of three options being considered by Northamptonshire County Council as part of recent proposals to make county-wide savings.

The Friends of Oundle Library approached Oundle Mayor Roy Sparkes to seek residents’ views on the idea of an increase in the town’s precept being used to keep the library open.

Cllr Sparkes said: “Oundle library also serves the surrounding villages and while they do have a mobile library, lots of people come into the town to use the library, so if we’re looking to save it then we might ask the local parishes whether they would like to help contribute to the cost.

“It would be done on a pro-rata basis according to the size of the village and the town council would contribute to the majority of it through an increase in the precept.

“It’s just an idea at this stage and it will depend on whether the residents want it and the strength of feeling about supporting the library.”

Cllr Sparkes said because the idea was in its early stages, it was too soon to say how much would need to be raised through the precept to keep the library open.

He said the next stage would be to get costings from the county council before seeking residents’ views on whether they would support an increase in the precept.

He added: “It’s only been a few weeks since the county council announced its proposals so it’s still early days.

“We just want to find out if people would be prepared to pay extra to keep the library open.”

The county council is looking at three options for the future of Northamptonshire libraries.

The first would see 15 libraries kept open and 21 smaller libraries offered as community-managed libraries; the second would see 15 libraries kept open and developed as community hubs; and the third option would see just eight larger libraries kept open, including Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden.

Chairman of the Friends of Oundle Library Ann Guy said: “Alongside other Northamptonshire libraries, we support a fourth option for the county council to consider which we believe provides a sustainable future for our vital library services.

“Oundle’s library has successfully served generations of people in this town and its outlying villages.

“Our alternative option for the library is focused upon being proud of its heritage, preserving its present format and promoting its future.

“We believe that closing or paring down our library will be highly detrimental to the well-being of the local community.

“Oundle library’s dynamic and professional team has done a brilliant job to ensure that the service is modern and relevant for all ages from babies through to senior citizens.”

The friends group has also received support from MP Tom Pursglove, who has met with the group and said in a letter to them: “My role is to ensure that the views of local people are heard loud and clear by those taking decisions at County Hall.”

The Friends say the library attracts about 1,000 visitors a week.

A petition to save the library service in Oundle has gained about 1,000 signatures.