Campaigners determined to keep their town library open are celebrating the latest chapter in the long-running saga that began when the facility was deemed surplus to stock.
Raunds Community Library Trust has been battling to keep the building open after the rental agreement with its former owners, the now defunct Northamptonshire County Council, was reviewed.
New owners North Northants Council (NNC) wanted the library to pay its own way without financial support from the authority and Raunds Town Council were reluctant to take on the costs.
Raunds Library trustee Phil Grace said: “We are very pleased. It’s been a long and tortuous process, but it’s the beginning of the next chapter for us. We are really looking forward to the future. It’s a great weight off our minds and we are happy. We can plan to develop our services.”
The Creating Tomorrow Academy Trust’s lease arrangements will now go back before the North Northants Council’s executive for final approval.
Cllr Helen Howell, NNC’s deputy leader and executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism, who is also a Raunds town councillor, said: “We have been working tirelessly with all concerned to find the best solution and there is every confidence that this outcome will secure the future of Raunds Library. We’re pleased to say that we had two bids come forward, which shows very positive community engagement.
“I am delighted that the outcome of this very robust process will allow the Raunds Community Library Trust volunteers to continue to run the library in Raunds alongside The Creating Tomorrow Academy Trust, who already have a very successful presence here in north Northamptonshire.
“My sincere thanks to all concerned, particularly to the volunteers who have kept the library running in this interim period and we will continue to offer our support until the position is finalised.”
As part of the council’s Community Managed Libraries Programme, the council had been working to transfer Raunds Library into community management.
In March NNC announced that they had has entered into a partnership, brokered between an ‘experienced and established’ academy trust and Raunds Community Library Trust, but in May, the council had to put out a ‘final call’ for any expressions of interest to take on the running of the library.
Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of the NNC, said: “The library is a wonderful asset for the residents of Raunds and I am pleased that we are a step closer to securing its future.”
Creating Tomorrow Academy Trust already partners Rothwell Community Library Trust (RCLT) and took on the building to turn it into a community hub.
Students receive training and develop skills needed for employment.
Mr Grace added: “There will be a lot of dotting of i’s and crosses the t’s. The main responsibility for the day-to-day running of the library will be ours but we will work together.”