In response to Northamptonshire County Council’s consultation on a review of the county’s libraries, I accepted an invitation to the recent ‘Showcase Deanshanger Library’ event to see for myself the importance of the facilities for the community there.
I was struck by the strength of feeling in the community regarding the County Council’s proposals, evidenced both by the sheer numbers who turned out and the conversations I had with concerned residents and volunteers. It is obvious that Deanshanger Library provides a real focal point for the local community, and I was able to see for myself the various activities the Friends organise, including health walks, a ‘rhyme time’ event for toddlers, and ‘knit and natter’ gatherings for all ages. I also spoke to Paula Culley, the Library Manager, who expressed her view that the library is vital for the health and wellbeing of a community which is geographically isolated from surrounding population centres, particularly for older residents.
The Friends of Deanshanger Library are very concerned that the options they feel are being presented to them are to lose the library altogether or somehow take over the running and funding of the library. The former would be a devastating loss for the community, but the latter worries the volunteers as they don’t believe they have the necessary skills or information required to take on such an enormous responsibility.
I was also visited at my recent drop in advice surgery by a group of Brackley residents who wanted to share with me their concerns about what the proposals might mean for their library. I have always been clear that my priority is to represent the views of my constituents and to seek to protect their interests, and I am working closely with District Councillor Fiona Baker to ensure that Brackley library remains open and is sustainable for the future. I will be visiting both Brackley and Middleton Cheney libraries over the Christmas Recess to see for myself the valuable services and support they provide for residents.