Campaigners who fought to keep a town library open have welcomed a deal to maintain the service with a joint deal to partner with an education trust.
Raunds Community Library had been using the premises that had been owned by the now defunct Northamptonshire County Council renting the building under a Tenancy at Will.
In January the tenancy looked in trouble as Raunds Town Council discussed the future of the library as the 'needs analysis' had deemed it surplus to requirements.
But now building owners North Northants Council (NNC) has entered into a partnership, brokered between an 'experienced and established' academy trust and Raunds Community Library Trust.
Cllr Helen Howell, North Northamptonshire Council’s deputy leader and executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism, said: “The decision to close Raunds library, unless a suitable community management agreement was established, was taken by the former Northamptonshire County Council.
“It has always been my desire to find a workable solution to retain Raunds Library without placing the financial burden solely on the residents of Raunds, so I am delighted that we have been able to bring these two trusts together.
"We have been working tirelessly with all concerned to find the best outcome for our residents and this partnership will provide the support and stability that is needed to retain Raunds Library. My sincere thanks to all concerned.”
A new business plan has been received, which will be subject to approval by NNC’s executive, but there is confidence that this will secure the future of Raunds Library.
After a heated meeting in January North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) have been working alongside Raunds Town Council and the Raunds Library Community Trust volunteers, to find a viable solution to enable the transfer of Raunds Library into community management, as part of the council’s Community Managed Libraries Programme.
As an interim measure, in order to keep the Library open for the local community, NNC had allowed the Raunds Community Library Trust to occupy the library premises under a Tenancy at Will.
Phil Grace, secretary of Raunds Community Library Trust, welcomed the news.
He said: "It really is a fantastic solution. We look forward to working with this education transfer in the future."
In a letter to volunteers chairman of Raunds Community Library Trust (RCLT) Peter Wathen announced the breakthrough saving the library.
He said: "As you know, the future of our library has been very uncertain, but the trustees of RCLT have been working on a new proposal and are very pleased to be able to inform you that we have worked up a plan to enter into a partnership with an education trust.
"A joint business plan from the education trust and ourselves has now been submitted to North Northamptonshire Council which we are very hopeful will secure the future of our library.
"This proposal has been well received, however, please note that this plan is still subject to approval by NNC executive in April before we can proceed further. We will not close on March 31".
"As a volunteer who is committed to the future of Raunds Community Library I wanted you to hear this good news from the trustees personally and as more detailed information can be released we will of course keep you informed.
"Thank you again for your continued commitment to Raunds Community Library."
The Library will be on the agenda at the town council meeting this evening (March 8) where an announcement will be made.
Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of NNC, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to announce this partnership and, subject to approval by the executive, we should be able to secure the future of this excellent asset for the residents of Raunds.”
A spokesman for Raunds Town Council added: “Raunds Town Council welcomes this positive outcome for Raunds Library and would like to place on record our thanks to Cllr Howell and NNC for all of the work that has gone on behind the scenes.
"We would also like to thank the army of volunteers who have kept the library going over the last few years. It is great that everyone has come together to be able to secure the future of this important community service. We very much look forward to meeting the academy trust in due course to discuss how we can support them further.”