Save Urban Libraries

I am here to put the case for the libraries in the urban areas of our town which have no Parish Council to support them - St James, Far Cotton, Abington , Kingsthorpe.

I am speaking particularly about Kingsthorpe. This is the library used and loved by the communities I represent.

Kingsthorpe Library is ideally situated in the heart of Kingsthorpe local shops. There is easy parking and a vibrant retail offer  of supermarkets, banks, chemists, newsagents, hair dressers, cafes and restaurants. Kingsthorpe Library is easily reached by bus from Pitsford, Boughton, Welford , Kelmarsh and the new housing developments at Buckton Fields. The residents of these communities would also be affected by the closure of Kingsthorpe Library.

Kingsthorpe library serves a wide demographic. Communities which fall into 10% ofthe highest deprivation indices in the country  for Education, Skills and Training, also Health, Deprivation and Disability live within easy walking distance of Kingsthorpe library. These are people who are living in poverty, with ill health and rely on the library to make their welfare applications and  job searches using the library IT services. 

Educational attainment in Northampton is well below the average. We need to increase levels of literacy and learning for our young people to ensure better futures for them and their families. A local solicitor told me how he did his homework in Kingsthorpe library .In a family of five children there was nowhere quiet for him to work. A young mum tells me how she is with her children during the week. At weekends she goes to Kingsthorpe library to study for her accountancy qualifications.

Like many libraries Kingsthorpe is a vibrant community hub - busy with parents and young children, craft and hobby groups, health visitors, and book borrowers. It is a social centre reducing isolation and loneliness and enabling people to make friends. This is the glue which keeps communities and neighbourhoods strong and resilient. Faced with such a reduction in public services this becomes ever more needed.

Kingsthorpe is in a unique position in that the building is neither owned by the Borough nor the county. The private landlord granted a 99 year lease in return for a peppercorn rent of £15 333 a year, this includes rates. How much would it cost to terminate the lease with approximately 60 years remaining?

Of the libraries retained under Option 2  At 56 hours, Kingsthorpe has longer opening hours than Irthlingborough, Brixworth, Brackley, Oundle, Burton Latimer and Duston. The property costs are lower than Burton Latimer, Oundle, Brackley, Brixworth, Weston Favell, Corby and Irthlingborough.  Kingsthorpe is classed as a medium library. Two other medium libraries in Northampton ,retained under Option 2 are Duston and Hunsbury. Both with Parish Councils and both with Tory councillors. Are these more valid than Kingsthorpe?

I recently cut the ribbon to open a new library in a converted classroom in Kingsthorpe Grove Primary School.  To see the excitement on the children's faces as they saw the brightly painted room with pictures of their favourite storybook characters. the colourful cushions and shelves of books  was an absolute joy. Every child should have access to such pleasures. There was a large collage on the wall - Reading Gives you Wings. How true is that!

Tomorrow, March 1st, is World Book Day. It is the biggest celebration of reading, marked by over 100 countries over the world. If today  you turn the key and lock the door of libraries such as Kingsthorpe you will be making life and the future just that bit more bleak and hard for the local communities. Teresa May talks about the 'just about managing' families  I would describe the some of the residents  I represent as the 'already struggling'

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