Irchester library future still up in the air

Irchester library is one of 22 that Northamptonshire County Council wants communtity groups to take over.
Irchester library is one of 22 that Northamptonshire County Council wants communtity groups to take over.

Irchester residents are being asked if they want their Carnegie library to keep running.

The parish council is leafleting all houses this week and asking residents to respond to the consultation currently being held by Northamptonshire County Council about the future of the county’s library service.

Irchester is one of the 17 libraries under threat of closure by the county council which is in talks with community groups to take over their running.

Despite the library being built in 1909 with a £1,000 gift to the parish from library enthusiast Andrew Carnegie, the county council says it has legal ownership of the Victorian red brick building.

It now wants the parish council to pay £195,000 for the building or pay an annual rent of £8,250 to lease the premises.

Parish council clerk Nikki Daft says the county council has said that if the parish does not take it over then the building will be disposed of.

The parish council now wants to know what the residents think and whether taking over the library is a viable option.

She said: “We are notifying everyone in the village about the council’s survey and reminding them to have their say. There will be no point the parish council taking it over if only two per cent of residents say they want it to continue.

“We are also asking for volunteers and if anyone has any skills that could help take the project forward.”

The library is currently run by county council staff on a reduced service of three half days a week.

The clerk said she would not advise the council to buy the building because to do so the council would have to take take out a large loan.

The consultation is running until March 22 for Irchester library and another seven libraries. The earlier consultation for the remaining libraries ended last month. Most of the libraries have a community group willing to take over but final negotiations about buildings and rent still have to take place in a number of cases. The current plan is for the county council to keep running 14 libraries and give statutory protection to a further five. The other 17 will have no statutory protection so if they fail they may close.

The county council will make a final decision in May.