Northamptonshire libraries win reprieve in council cuts

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Libraries in Northamptonshire have been given a reprieve ahead of a cabinet meeting to look at ways the county council can save £69m in the next year.

Eight branches were due to close, but the Conservative-run council's cabinet said all will remain open while it carries out a review of the service.

Labour deputy leader Mark Bullock said he did not think the numbers add up.

"This is just a tactic. They are saying they will not close libraries but maybe some of them will not be open."

A final version of the proposed budget was published ahead of the cabinet meeting to finalise details that will go to the full Conservative controlled county council later this month.

Cuts include turning off street lights, ending lollipop patrols and social service budget reductions.

Bus subsidies axed

A Northamptonshire organisation which represents care homes said a proposal to cut funding for residential care was "unlawful".

Norarch said it would call for a judicial review if the authority goes ahead with the plans.

In 2008, councillors agreed on a four year plan to provide £1m a year to help pay for care home places but after paying only half of the money councillors now want to stop the rest.

Glenn Hurd, from Norarch, said the authority had a duty to carry out its agreement.

"The service has been under-funded for years and in law the council is obliged to provide proper budgets and we are considering challenging this."

The council also plans to axe bus subsidies but will set £1m aside for replacement transport schemes.

Advice services, which were due to lose £150,000, will receive £250,000 under the latest plans.

'Strength of feeling'

The council said it received a reduction in funding from the government and will need to make £137m in savings over the next four years.

Council leader Jim Harker said: "These final budget proposals are the culmination of weeks of consultation with residents and scrutiny committees.

"The comments we received about our library proposals demonstrated the strength of feeling people have about their local libraries.

"We have also heard people's feedback about our proposed saving for advice and information services and are therefore looking to invest in this area instead.

"Some difficult choices have still had to be made, and our final budget proposals balance the need to save money whilst also ensuring a council tax freeze."

Liberal democrat leader on the council Chris Stanbra said the cuts that worried him the most concerned social services.

The proposals will go to a full council meeting on 24 February.

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