Don’t ‘read all about it’ at libraries facing yet more cuts

Newspapers won't be available at libraries thanks to NCC budget cuts
Newspapers won't be available at libraries thanks to NCC budget cuts

Newspapers and magazines including the Northants Telegraph and the Chronicle and Echo will no longer be available to library-goers in Northamptonshire after the county council said it wouldn’t be renewing subscriptions.

The authority, which is currently in financial peril, says it can save £27,000 by cancelling the papers.

But library-goers said it is a convenient coincidence that the authority is facing greater public scrutiny than ever before in local and national newspapers.

One person who contacted the Northants Telegraph said: “I go in twice a week and it’s really busy. But at about 11.30am on Thursday there were more staff than customers in Kettering library.

“There used to be a queue for the papers and you had to wait if you wanted to have a look at one of them. There’s normally a good ten to 15 people there reading the papers.

“But it’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy - less people going in to read the papers means less customers and so cuts can be justified.”

The Northants Telegraph, the Chronicle and Echo, the Mirror, Express, Guardian, Times and the Daily Mail are among papers available at county libraries.

But this year two section 114 notices have been issued by the council meaning all new expenditure is banned until it is looked at by a special panel.

Some libraries including Kettering and Rothwell have already had the papers stopped but others are not yet at the end of their subscriptions. In Rothwell, it is believed the friends of the library have funded the papers themselves.

Another frustrated library used said: “It’s annoying because part of the reason I go to the library to look at the papers is because of the comprehensive coverage of the council’s financial problems. Isn’t it convenient that their library-users can no longer read about those problems?”

A spokesperson for Northamptonshire County Council said: “The council is facing a well-publicised and very challenging period as we try to balance the demand and expectations for our support and services against a backdrop of reduced budgets and a budget deficit that requires us to find up to £70m of efficiencies.

“As a result members have agreed a plan that requires close scrutiny on the necessity and justification for all but essential spend. This means that all expenditure other than the cost of caring for our most vulnerable residents will be reviewed and may be stopped based on an assessment of that justification.

“A panel is in place for making these decisions and we will be recording and tracking the associated savings.

“This will be reported on a monthly basis to council as part of budget monitoring.

“The council appreciates that this decision, and many other similar decisions that may have to made, will be considered as reasonable by some stakeholders and not others. But they are decisions that have to be made in the current climate. The saving for the withdrawal of newspapers and magazines is anticipated to be £27,000.”