05 November 2012

The full extent of savings made as a result of relocating the public library in Wootton will be discussed at a Northamptonshire County Council cabinet meeting next week (13th November).

The public library for Wootton was moved out of Caroline Chisholm School from 27th October following extensive public consultation and a cabinet decision in July.

The library had been combined with the school library as part of a Public Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme for the school. This arrangement meant the public library cost the council considerably more than similar libraries in the county.

The library also had lower visitor figures than other similar libraries, particularly with regard to older library borrowers and it had not been possible to make changes that have been successfully introduced elsewhere, such as self-service and Sunday opening, without adding to the cost. There was also limited parking during school hours.

Next week’s cabinet report details the financial arrangements around leaving the PFI contract including a full breakdown of the anticipated savings.

The report shows that the relocation of the library will mean the council saves £74,000 each year (2013/14) and a total of £1.5 million over the length of the PFI contract which was due to end in 2029/30.

There is a one-off cost this year to leave the PFI contract; this is expected to be £273,000 and is subject to final confirmation. There is also a one-off cost this year of approximately £65,000 to set up the temporary library at Wootton community centre and it is anticipated that this investment on furniture, equipment etc will eventually be used in a future new permanent library for the area.

Cabinet member for customer and community services Councillor Heather Smith said: “Taking into account all the costs of moving the library and coming out of the PFI contract, we knew that we would save at least £1m but the final figures are showing a higher saving.

“The library was moved out of the school during the half-term to minimise any disruption and we are now in the process of setting up its new home at Wootton Community Centre.

“We listened to concerns raised during the consultation about providing a mobile vehicle and so applied for planning permission to provide a temporary building instead which has taken longer than if we had only supplied a mobile vehicle.

“The new library will have the same facilities as other libraries such as self-service, computers and internet access and Sunday opening. This means we will have a public library in Wootton that is more accessible to everyone that needs it and offers the same level of service as the county’s other libraries, at a cost that is far less than the previous arrangement.”

The new interim library is due to open on 27th November. All books currently on loan from Wootton Fields Library have an extended loan date to cover this period, so that customers do not accrue overdue charges.

Also during the interim period, library users are welcome to visit any of the other libraries in the county – library opening hours.

The new interim library will open from 10am to 7pm Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 2pm on Saturdays and 1 pm to 4pm on Sundays.