"Will this use all the Council's money?"

No, the County Council has put an initial value on the building of £360,000 but we think that the final price may be less (because of the repairs needed).

A grant of £150,000 has been awarded by a charity.

The Council has previously set aside £120,000 to support the library, and the proposal is to increase that by £90,000 to £210,000 in total.

These figures are still subject to negotiation with the County Council.

The Council's reserves stand at about £400,000.

"Is this just to buy the building? What about running costs?"

The County Council has indicated a price of £360,000 but we think that the final price may be less (for example, because of repairs needed). The Desborough and Library Community Hub has a detailed business plan for income as well as expenditure. The Council is not anticipating contributing more money in future years (unless the library applies for funding under the grants to community groups budget).

The DLCH intends to run other activities and generate income throughout the year to cover the costs.

"Why did DLCH create a business plan?"

The original business plan was put together by the DLCH committee and pulled together by a qualified accountant and conformed to the format requirement NCC laid down. At that time, groups were bidding to become independent and the County Council's requirement was that all groups had to follow the same process and provide information in a set format.

DLCH's business plan was vetted by KBC when two DLCH committee members met with the Executive Director and the Leader of the Council. It was also linked to the vision DLCH had set out for the library and community hub at that stage when the only options were allow the library to close or seek to become an independent library.

"So what is the status of the business plan now?"

Due in no small part to the incredible work of people in this town, NCC paused the closure process and had a rethink. The original business plan is now having to be looked at again and will be worked on with NCC.

NCC has indicated that a new business plan will be needed to take account of the changed circumstances and the new offer from the County Council. We have been told that a new template will be provided by NCC and DLCH will complete that and formally discuss the 'offer' in detail with NCC. This is a sign of an improving relationship with NCC which needs to develop further.

"What is the offer from the County Council?"

The 'options' NCC put to the community groups (the report which came out last Monday) are now in the public domain, and Desborough's position has improved - now being community-managed but considered to be part of the statutory service. This doesn't mean that the building is safe, but it does mean we can negotiate with more confidence and a slightly stronger position (although nothing should be taken for granted).

This is a link to the County Council's documents.

"What has changed?"

The running costs have changed because of the 'offer' from NCC has changed.

Previously we were discussing independent libraries, now NCC is proposing community managed libraries. Before there would have been very little support from NCC, but now the offer includes NCC providing the book management system, self-service tills, public IT access, and training for free (rather than at the costs used in the independent model around which the original business plan was created).

This does not mean that there is no clear plan at all, because all the groundwork has been done, however it does mean that any figures provided now could change (and probably would) as negotiations progress. This could easily lead to misunderstandings and misinformation, and accusations from some quarters of misleading by DLCH, DTC or both. For this very good reason, no information is being given out, and that is the only reason.

"The County Council said the library is safe now so why bother?"

The County Council's cabinet is considering proposals from officers. No decision has been made. It is clear that NCC's preferred option is to save money by having libraries managed and run by members of the community.

The County Council's arguments in favour of Desborough Library being part of the statutory library service have changed from the initial proposals. There is nothing to prevent a future decision to reverse this position and therefore put Desborough Library at risk again.

"Nobody uses the library anyway, why keep it?"

According to national research, the number of physical visits to traditional libraries has been falling slowly over the last few years, but the number of libraries has fallen faster.

Although the proportion of adults in England who use public libraries has been declining, satisfaction with library services among users is very high. 94% of adults who used the library were very satisfied or fairly satisfied with their experience. This number has been consistently high (more than 90%) since this information was first collected in 2010/11.

Library users are more likely to be:

      • women than men
      • from upper socio-economic groups than lower socio-economic groups (though this gap is narrowing)
      • non-working adults than working adults
      • from black and minority ethnic groups than white ethnic groups
      • Adults who live with children.

Library supporter, Stephen Fry said: "We need to understand libraries as places of education and nourishment for everyone – there is a terrible sense that libraries are just an add-on to a council building, but they save lives."

"How will it work?"

The Council and the charity (and any other funders that can be attracted) would contribute to the purchase price and the Desborough Library and Community Hub (the Charitable Incorporated Organisation) would take over the running of the building from the County Council.

The Desborough Library and Community Hub would be able to operate the building with volunteers, at additional times, and for other uses to help fund the running costs.

"Why not just invest the money and get interest on it?"

The interest rates are quite poor at the moment so any income from investments will be small. The Council is bound by law to protect invested cash and there are rules on how and where cash can be invested. The Council's Financial and Treasury Management Strategy and Reserves Policy sets out the rules.

"What is the Desborough Library and Community Hub?"

This is a new charity organisation set up:

"To promote for the benefit of the residents of Desborough and surrounding area or communities the provision of a public library for recreations and / or other leisure time occupation of individuals who have need of such facilities by reason of their youth, age, infirmity, or disablement, financial hardship, or social and economic circumstances or for the public at large in the interests of social welfare and with the object of improving the condition of life of the said residences."

Which means, to run the library and more!

Details of the Desborough Library and Community Hub are on the Charity Commission's website here.

"Has the County Council decided to close Desborough library BECAUSE the Town Council has money?"

No, the County Council is moving forward with discussions to move 22 of the 36 libraries into community control. Most of those libraries do not have parish or town Councils with large reserves.

"How and why will the town own the building rather than the Town Council?"

A legally binding arrangement will be created between the funders (including the Council) and the Desborough Library and Community Hub to prevent the sale of the building or its use for anything else. We expect that the County Council will make the sale conditional on this basis too.

The reason is to enable the maximum freedom in trading for the Desborough Library and Community Hub.

"What about upkeep, repairs, ongoing costs, dilapidation?"

These costs will be paid by the Desborough Library and Community Hub out of the trading income.

"What contents will be left in the library?"

This is still to be determined by the County Council but their current proposal is to leave all the books, public computers, shelving and so on. Books and resources will have to be replaced over time and it looks likely that the County Council will provide some of these.

"What about the Kettering Borough Council desk?"

Kettering Borough Council has indicated that it wants to retain the service currently provided from Desborough Library.

"Do you have to spend all the money before the unitary Councils are formed and the County Council and Kettering Borough Council are disbanded?"

No, it is not necessary to spend all the Council's reserves before any unitary Council is formed. However, all the indications are that reorganisation of that tier of local Government usually leads to functions being devolved to Town and Parish Councils and there is not always enough money to pay for them to the standard local people would wish to have.

"Hasn't the County Council had to abandon the closure programme anyway?"

The County Council appears to be pressing ahead with plans to remove up to 22 libraries from direct County Council control. The stay of execution related to the closures rather than the current move to community-run libraries. The discussion about buying the library building is to attempt to prevent closure in the future.

"Why are you doing just an online survey?"

We aren't. Leaflets have been delivered to every residence in Desborough.

Councillors were in the Library on Gala night (30 November 2018) to explain further.

If you want to contribute to the discussion you can:

  • Fill in the tear-off portion of the leaflet and post it in the box in the library
  • Email your response (based on the tear off portion of the leaflet) to admin@desboroughtowncouncil.gov.uk
  • Complete the online survey www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/H72563H

"Will the Council try to get developers to contribute (using Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended))?"

The Council has included a request for S106 funding to go towards the library at every opportunity since May 2018.

"Will Kettering Borough Council's desk stay open?"

Yes, Kettering Borough Council representatives have said that they want to keep the desk open and will pay for it.

"What about Desborough Town Council, will you pay rent?"

Yes, the Council currently pays £8,000 rent to the County Council and expects to continue paying rent to any new landlord.

"What about all the "what ifs"?"

We have worked on a number of different scenarios to work out what happens in any eventuality. This is an attempt to cover all the possibilities but there may well be other remote possibilities.