Grave fears over council’s ‘unworkable’ library plans

Have your say

POLITICAL leaders and volunteers are in a race against time to save a threatened North Yorkshire library, after it emerged plans by the county council to hand over the running of it to the community are currently unworkable.

North Yorkshire County Council’s plan to transfer the running of many of its 42 libraries to volunteers in a bid to counter £69m in Government cuts, had been deemed a success following a huge reaction from the public.

Under the proposals, considered by the executive this month, all North Yorkshire’s branch libraries would be retained, with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries which would be merged into one.

However, it has now emerged that Hunmanby library - one of eight branches earmarked for closure next year unless volunteers take over the running of it - currently does not have a viable scheme.

Yesterday, Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, offered to chair a meeting between Hunmanby Hub, North Yorkshire County Council and others who are participating in discussions in order to secure the future of Hunmanby Library.

“Over twenty volunteers have stepped forward to assist staff to keep the library open,” she said.

“However, I understand the matter hangs in the balance and depends on whether these volunteers wish to take responsibility for both a business plan as well as the day to day management of the library.

“I believe it is unreasonable to expect a voluntary group to write a sustainable business plan, as well as provide volunteers to man the library.”

Scarborough Borough Councillor Nick Harvey, who represents Hunmanby, said he has grave fears the town is the first of many in North Yorkshire to realise it is unworkable to keep their libraries open under the county council’s plans.

“Hunmanby has been honest and realised that there is no community-led solution,” he said.

“I fear others that are trying one by one will fail over the time as running a library with volunteers and finding new funds each year is going to drain many other communities.”

North Yorkshire County Council has promised to work with the people of Hunmanby to try to resolve the problem.