A COUNCIL has announced plans to appoint additional trustees of an historic library building – meaning the authority will no longer be solely responsible for its future.

Darlington Borough Council's cabinet members will next week discuss proposals relating to the concept of the appointment of a number of independent trustees of the Crown Street Library building, as well as the development of a Library Service Consultative Group.

The authority say they are proposing the idea to give more formal recognition to the role of the wider community, by moving from the council as the sole trustee of the Crown Street building to appoint in addition a number of independent trustees, and to avoid potential future conflicts of interest between the council’s service provider role and the building trustee role.

The role will be about the trust over the building, which sets out the purpose for which the building can be used, and not about the provision of the library service which is the sole responsibility of the council.

They also want to widen participation about issues concerning library provision in Darlington, with the establishment of a Library Service Consultative Group.

The group will enable opportunities for library users to meet key staff and councillors to discuss matters relating to the service.

Cllr Paul Howell, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for leisure and local Environment, said the move would stop potential conflicts of interests developing within the council.

Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “We know very well how precious Crown Street Library is to the people of Darlington – both in terms of the library service and the building itself.

“The library was bequeathed to the people of Darlington in 1885, using funds from the estate of Edward Pease

“This proposal to appoint up to three new trustees, totally independent of the council, is formal recognition of the fact that this truly is the people’s library.”

The proposal, which will be discussed by cabinet members next week, states: "As both the separate legal responsibility for the service and the building sit with the same decision makers there is the potential for conflict between these two roles, as was recognised in 2017.

"One of the ways of dealing with this in future would be to appoint additional independent trustees who would then be able make decisions should cabinet be in a position of potential conflict.

"What will change is that instead of the council being the sole trustee, the recruitment of additional trustees will mean that there will be other trustees who can play a role in decision making should the need arise."