Frontrunners named to take over libraries

Three community groups have been named as the frontrunners to take over their libraries when Camden Council funding runs dry next year.

The council has named a youth charity and two community campaign teams as the preferred groups to run Chalk Farm, Belsize and Heath libraries, as a tendering process continues.

The council is expected to confirm the recommendations on Tuesday (December 20).

The successful groups will then have until January 31 to convince the council they are financially viable or the buildings could be sold off.

On Tuesday (December 13) the Primrose Hill Community Association and Friends of Chalk Farm Library - who are the frontrunners to take over running Chalk Farm Library in Primrose Hill - revealed they have raised more than �300,000 towards their �1.2million target as they unveiled a pledgometer at the library.

Playwright Alan Bennet and writer Joan Bakewell, who have both spoken out against library closures, are among a number of high profile donors to pledge money to the cause.

Dick Bird, who is heading up the fundraising effort, said: “In some ways it’s going really well. People have cottoned onto the fact that it is now or never and this sum will do more than just allow us to limp on.

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“People are being very generous but we really do need a few really major donors and we know they are out there in Primrose Hill.”

The Winchester youth charity beat off two other bids to be selected as the likely operator of Belsize Library and the Keats Community Library Phoenix Group is set to take over Heath Library,

If the bids succeed, the three libraries will receive a total of �192,000 in transitional funding and one-off grants from the council’s People’s Fund to smooth the take-over process.

Last year Camden announced it would lose �2million from its library budget and the three libraries would have their funding withdrawn in March 2012.