Northampton

Northamptonshire libraries rescue plan moves step closer

Young boy in library Image copyright Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Image caption Community groups will take over the running of nearly half of Northamptonshire's libraries

Rescue plans drawn up by community groups to keep a crisis-hit council's libraries open have been approved.

Northamptonshire County Council wanted to close 21 of its 36 libraries - a move ruled unlawful in the High Court.

It decided instead that 17 would be taken over by community groups, whose business plans have now been ratified, with just 14 remaining council-run.

Deputy council leader Lizzy Bowen said they ensured "an efficient service... despite the budgetary constraints".

The remaining five library branches will offer statutory services and be managed by community groups, and are being helped by the council to develop their business plans.

The handover of services to the community groups is part of a £42.9m package of savings at the cash-strapped council.

Image caption Northamptonshire County Council is searching for savings

Ms Bowen said the groups had presented "robust" plans which would reach "as many people as possible".

"Community groups and councils across the county have come forward in support of the library service," she said.

"Without their active engagement, the county council could not have achieved such a positive outcome for residents."

Individual agreements will be reached with each group, with the aim of the first properties being handed over in October, said the council.

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