Possible buy-outs of Desborough and Rothwell libraries to be discussed

Rothwell Library
Rothwell Library

A proposal for Kettering Council to buy the buildings and secure the futures of Desborough and Rothwell libraries will be discussed by councillors next week.

After a joint call by the leader of Kettering’s Labour group Cllr Mick Scrimshaw and Conservative Kettering councillor Jim Hakewill, the matter of whether to buy the two under-threat libraries will be considered at the authority’s research and development committee on June 12.

The libraries are part of Kettering borough and are being threatened with closure along with 19 other libraries across the county.

The county council is proposing to close the libraries as part of multi-million pound cuts to save funds.

Campaigners against the closures have accused the county council of wanting to sell off the libraries to help its financial situation.

Groups of volunteers are putting together business plans to run the libraries but many have been asked for huge payments from Northamptonshire County Council to buy the buildings.

As well as providing library provisions many of the buildings also provide services for children and the elderly.

The freehold for Rothwell Library in Market Hill is being priced at £460,000 and Desborough Library in High Street is being priced at £360,000.

Cllr Scrimshaw said: “I’m really pleased that the council has decided to discuss it at the scrutiny meeting.

“However they did not really have a choice as the constitution allows me to request that the matter be looked at.

“We want to find out if there is any way that Kettering Council can help the libraries and the scrutiny committee will decide whether to put the matter before the council’s executive.

“I would hope given the tight timescales that the executive would convene a special meeting to do that.”

Cllr Hakewill has called on library users from the two towns to go along to the meeting to show the strength of feeling against the closure proposal.

He said: “I’m delighted that this is on the agenda so that people can ask questions and receive some answers.”

The library groups have until June 25 to put their bids to the county authority.

The county council is also facing a judicial review about the legitimacy of the closures, which will be decided in the coming months.

The High Court could force the county to go back to look again at the proposals.

If the 21 libraries do close, it will leave just 15 libraries across Northamptonshire.

Irchester library is one of the libraries threatened with closure.

The county council is asking the parish council to pay £190,000 to buy the building, which was built for the community by famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in the early 1900s.

The county authority gained ownership of the library from the parish council for free in the 1960s when it took over responsibility.