Kettering Council urged to buy Desborough and Rothwell libraries

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

Calls are being made for Kettering Council to consider buying the under-threat libraries at Desborough and Rothwell.

Kettering’s Labour opposition say they want a council debate about the issue and for the authority to decide whether buying the two buildings could be a viable option.

Northamptonshire County Council is proposing to close both libraries, along with 19 others in the county.

Community and voluntary groups from across the county are currently putting together business plans to take over the libraries.

It is understood that NCC is asking for £360,000 for the freehold of Desborough library in High Street and £460,000 for the library in Market Hill, Rothwell.

Kettering’s Labour leader Mick Scrimshaw said he wants Kettering Council’s scrutiny committee to look into the possibility of buying both buildings.

He said: “Given that in a couple of years time there will be a brand new council and we don’t yet know what their position will be on providing libraries, it would seem sensible to support the friends groups who are desperate to keep the libraries open, and one way of doing this would be for the borough council to take over the ownership of the buildings so they can be rented back to these groups.

“To make a decision as to whether or not this would be a sensible idea or not, councillors need to at least discuss the idea and to explore the implications.

“By asking the scrutiny committee to investigate the possibility it will at least ensure that arguments from both sides can be aired and any necessary recommendations or comments then be passed to the council’s leadership to consider at their executive committee.”

Conservative councillor Jim Hakewill, who represents Kettering’s Slade Ward, is also calling for a discussion.

He said: “To me it makes sense for the borough council to acquire the library and as far as I can see the Friends of Rothwell library are in a position to lease the library back.

“This will give the borough council a revenue it fits in with its asset plans.

“It is important that the library remains in public ownership.”

Paula Holmes of Save Desborough Library campaign group said she also welcomed the calls for Kettering Council to consider the buying option.

She said: “What has happened with the closure proposal is extremely unfair and it feels like the county council is making it so hard for the groups to get the information needed together.

“To lose the libraries in Desborough and Rothwell would be a tragedy as they also serve the rural communities, which no longer have a mobile service.”

If Kettering Council agrees to consider the matter it could be discussed at the Research and Development committee on June 12.

The groups have until June 25 to get their business plans together.

A judicial review into the closure of the libraries is going before the High Court on June 19 and 20 after a child and her family challenged the legality of the closures.

The High Court could then tell the county council to look again at the library closures.

If the libraries do close it means only 15 libraries will remain in the county.