A new plan for the long-term future of Northamptonshire County Council’s Library service and for investment to improve facilities has been revealed as part of the authority’s budget proposals.
The proposal, which has been developed with community groups and District, Borough, Town and Parish Councils, has used feedback from previous consultations, and would see the vast majority of libraries being kept open.
And the Council is proposing that Section 106 money is used to enhance facilities across the county. The Council will continue its investment for a new library as part of the Daventry community hub, and alongside partners has made a bid to the One Public Estate programme to explore options for a new Community Health and Wellbeing Hub at Weston Favell.
The current draft proposal is to keep 14 libraries directly under the county council’s management. Another five would be community managed while still delivering statutory responsibilities with support from the county council.
The remaining 17 would be community managed. Proposals have been developed for these with Districts, Borough, Town and Parish Councils and community groups. Discussions are still ongoing for three of these.
The approach taken in each local area has been developed in partnership with community organisations and councils, tailoring each individual proposal to local need and the resources available.
Libraries that remain under county council control would be reviewed to develop what they currently offer, to increase footfall and maximise income.
It is also anticipated that money from developer contributions, under Section 106, would be used to support the improvement of library infrastructure, with investment available at individual libraries.
Cllr Cecile Irving-Swift, county council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said:
“At the heart of this proposal is the fact that we’ve worked with some wonderful community groups who clearly have a passion for books and libraries.
“As such we’ve been able to sit down and draw up unique plans with the groups so that a model is proposed that is workable in each location.
“The plans deliver a budget saving while at the same time ensuring the long-term future of the service – a proposal which I am delighted to endorse.”
The Council cannot consider maintaining the library service in its current form due to budgetary constraints and the need to deliver savings.
Last year the Council proposed an Independent Library model, however this was paused following public consultation and ultimately quashed following a Judicial Review.
If approved by Cabinet the new library proposals will be subject to an eight week consultation.
Read the draft budget
Read the full draft budget on our Committee Management Information System:
What happens next?
Cabinet will discuss the proposed 2019/20 budget on Tuesday 11 December at 2:00pm.