Hope for nearly all under-threat Northants libraries

Almost all of the 17 under-threat Northamptonshire libraries have had community groups step forward to run them, with just two libraries’ futures now hanging in the balance.

Northamptonshire County Council says that it has had business plans from 15 of the 17 libraries which will no longer receive statutory protection after the cash-strapped authority decided to reduce its library earlier this year.

Just Higham Ferrers Library and St James’ library in Northampton are still to have a concrete proposal, with the authority saying it has extended the deadline to try to ensure the libraries remain open.

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A council spokesman said: “Of the 17 libraries that will no longer form part of the council’s statutory provision, proposals have been put forward for 15 and we are currently assessing these to see what the next steps are.

“With regards to St James, as there is more than one interested party we have extended the deadline and will be going through a procurement process to assess the business cases submitted by the various groups.

“A proposal has not been received for Higham Ferrers. However, negotiations are still under way with the town council as we remain committed to exhausting every viable possibility to retain a library in that town before making a final decision.”

A group of volunteers who had expressed an interest in running the library bowed out recently after saying the financial burden would prove too much.

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There are 36 libraries in the county, and 19 will continue to have statutory protection, which includes five libraries that will be community managed.

Desborough library is one of these but plans for a charity to buy the library may have hit a bump this week after Desborough Town Council still has to decide whether it will fund the plan at a  cost of £210,000.

If the community libraries without statutory protection do not make a success of the venture the libraries could be lost.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service