CAMPAIGNERS fighting proposals to turn a library into a volunteer-run centre claim it could potentially lose the local authority more money than it would save.

Residents in Stokesley are fighting proposals by North Yorkshire County Council to remove its financial support from the community resource and hand it over to volunteers.

It is one of a number of libraries in the county, including Bedale, which are facing the prospect of becoming community-run with professional support from the authority.

But campaigners say the council’s proposals for Stokesley library – which are being made in order to make savings - could potentially cost it more than £1.2m.

The library was previously at Stokesley Manor House, which was owned by the county council until it was sold along with another of its properties, Springfield House care home. The money was invested in creating the present library and extra care facility on Town Close in Stokesley which are now all owned by Broadacres.

In return, the county council was able to rent the library space at a peppercorn rent in a long-term agreement.

Campaigners say they have scrutinised documents which show that the county council paid £1.2m in cash to Broadacres for the Town Close project, along with £430,000 for the agreed value of the land.

And they claim that money – close to the £1.6m the county council is trying to save from its libraries budget - could be lost for good.

Campaigner Eileen Driver said: “This is an unconscionable waste of local resources. North Yorkshire County Council’s abnegation of responsibility in trying to force local people to run a community library is unfair and unsustainable.”

The campaigners have also looked at the terms of the agreement drawn up in 2005 between Broadacres and the county council, which granted the council a 999-year lease of the library space.

And they claim the council could potentially end up having to pay “substantial” compensation to Broadacres on terminating the lease.

Broadacres has not commented on the likelihood of it suing the local authority.

A spokesman for the organisation said the council will discuss its proposals for Stokesley Library in detail with them once they had finalised their proposals.

A county council spokeswoman said the authority would be making a decision on the “best way forward” in July.

She added: “In relation to the partnership agreement with Broadacres regarding Stokesley Library, no decisions have yet been made.”