RESIDENTS looking to run their local library have discovered that while a council has waived business rates for more than 160 sports clubs and other organisations, they have been given no such assurance.
The charity which has been formed to take over the running of Stokesley Library in April is demanding to know why Hambleton District Council is the only district authority within North Yorkshire that is not giving the district's new community run libraries an automatic 100 per cent reduction in business rates.
As charities, the library groups will be eligible for an 80 per cent discount in business rates, but the groups formed to prevent the community resources from closure want additional business rate relief in order to help them get established.
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Council leader Mark Robson has previously said that rates would be decided on an individual basis and considered when libraries had formally applied for the reduction.
North Yorkshire County Council will hand over the running of 21 libraries to volunteers in April, after budget reductions meant it could no longer afford to run them.
The group formed to take over Stokesley Library, which will be renamed The Globe Community Library, submitted Freedom of Information requests to Hambleton District Council asking it to reveal if any other organisations in the district received 100 per cent business rate rebate and which organisations it applied to.
The FOIs revealed that more than 160 groups currently receive an automatic 100 per cent reduction.
They include sports clubs for cricket, tennis, football and bowls, village halls, scout and guide groups and other charitable organisations.
Stokesley Parish Councillor Stewart Brennan said: “Some time ago we contacted Hambleton District Council saying we were thinking of starting up a charity to run the library, but we had already done some sums and the 20 per cent rates bill was a problem because it’s about £4,000.
“We have a load of unpaid trustees and unpaid volunteers to run the library; North Yorkshire County Council with Broadacres who are essentially providing a building for free rent and the parish council who are collecting additional precept from residents in Stokesley to pay for a full-time employee – everybody is giving either their time or their money, or their services or support. Everybody is giving to make this work apart from Hambleton District Council who want business rates from us.
“In our application we have said it’s a service for everybody in Stokesley to use. This is a charity; we’re not competing with anybody else or looking to make a profit and they initially came back to us and said basically that we couldn’t have it.”
Hambleton District Council said it was unable to provide a comment until next week.
The council has said on an earlier occasion that each application for business rate relief will be decided on its merits.