‘Disaster’: Group slams plan to close Middleton Cheney Library as consultation opens

Middleton Cheney Library is threatened with closure. Library supporters and users. NNL-171024-165702009

Closing Middleton Cheney Library would be a ‘disaster’ it was claimed as the county council opened a consultation on £9.6m worth of cuts.

The future of up to 28 libraries is under threat from Northamptonshire County Council’s cuts, with libraries in Woodford Halse and Middleton Cheney most at danger of being closed down but Brackley’s may also be shut.

Middleton Cheney Library is threatened with closure. From the left, Brian Goodey, Alan Deary, Middleton Cheney Library Supporters Group, David Thompson, Garden Club and Chris Wells, History Society. NNL-171024-165638009

Middleton Cheney Library Supporters Group chairman Brian Goodey said the library is about far more than just books with the Main Road building a ‘hub’ for information, advice and entertainment.

“It would be a great loss to the social and cultural spirit of this village if the library were to close,” he said.

“This facility represents the county and district councils as well as the community and it would be a disaster to remove it.”

The county council has proposed three options, with option one allowing Woodford Halse and Middleton Cheney libraries to be offered to external organisations to run.

Options two and three would see both libraries close, and option three would also see Brackley Library close.

A consultation was approved by councillors on Thursday, October 19, and will run until January 13, 2018.

The Middleton Cheney group organises fundraising events for the library, as well as entertainment to raise the facility’s profile in the village.

A public meeting is being held in the library from 7.45pm to 8.45pm on Wednesday, November 1 by the supporters group, which was established six years ago to resist a previous closure attempt.

Mr Goodey said: “It’s the one building in the village which can provide public access to the district and county council services, and if that goes there will be no place for people to be able to go to get information.

“But the question is can the community rally around and fight against these plans? I have my hopes as we have built up a strong audience in the village.”

The county council’s announcement that it would need to save £9.6m by cutting library services, rural bus routes, road maintenance and Trading Standards has triggered widespread opposition.

The opposition Labour group called the library cuts a ‘dark day’ for the council while renowned Northampton writer Alan Moore said the plans were ‘monstrous’.

Cllr Sylvia Hughes said the preferred option would be to see the 21 smaller libraries taken over by community groups – even though cabinet papers show the council would save around £1m more with option three.

“Faced with significant funding pressures, we have no option but to review the current model for Northamptonshire libraries,” she said.

“We are committed to maintaining a library service that continues to serve the most people who borrow items and those who use the library for other services, such as computer workshops, registration services and access to borough and district council services.”

These cuts are set to be a prelude to far greater measures due to be announced in December as the council needs to find £115m savings over the next four years mainly to fund social care in the county.

To find out how to submit contributions for the consultation, click here.

More from News