‘Option four’ motion to spare Northamptonshire’s libraries from cuts rejected by county council

Campaigners gathered outside county hall before the full council meeting took place.
Campaigners gathered outside county hall before the full council meeting took place.

Councillors have rejected a bid to offer a “spare Northamptonshire’s libraries” option to the public as part of a proposal to cut £10m from services.

Northamptonshire County Council has put forward three options for consultation on where the axe will fall on public libraries, all of which would close at least 21 of them.

The choices have been met with condemnation from Northamptonshire residents and opposition parties, who say they are “essential” community centres.

At a full county council meeting yesterday (November 23), Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Stanbra made a motion to introduce “option four” and offer the public the choice to ask for no cuts at all to libraries.

However, it was defeated by 32 votes to 10. The bulk of votes against came from Conservative councillors.

The options also propose that libraries could be handed over to and run by community groups if they are dropped by the council.

Cllr Dennis Meredith, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the meeting: “Librarians are very skilled people. Libraries must have paid, professional staff.

“To say that libraries can just be handed over to community groups is absolute madness.

“If you close these libraries, you will be the worst county council in the country.”

More than a dozen members of the public and county councillors spoke at the meeting to appeal for “option four”, including Northamptonshire author Sue Bentley.

But Conservative Cllr Sylvia Hughes said: “An option of ‘do nothing’ is not viable.

“Northamptonshire is one of the last county councils in the country to review their libraries.

“Please, everyone, please use the consultation to put forward what you’ve said here today so it can be properly analysed and considered.”

Earlier in the meeting, a motion of no-confidence that asked the Northamptonshire County Council cabinet to resign was defeated by 36 to 11.