WHILE the row over whether community-run libraries should pay business rates rumbles on, it has emerged a number of Hambleton district councillors are unconvinced about the futures of the services.

Spectator understands while hundreds of volunteers are preparing to give up their free time to keep the libraries running, there is a feeling among some members that lending out books has become a minority activity.

Despite waves of complaints arising each time North Yorkshire County Council has cut back its library service, the sceptics believe local libraries are becoming outdated, and highlight how internet searches have replaced trips to reference sections.

Figures from the libraries tell a different story. Just two years ago the library at Bedale received more than 33,000 visits and lent out 40,000 items – more than 100 a day.

During the same year, Northallerton lent out more than 120,000 items and had 76,000 visits.

Spectator must congratulate the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond for its recent award from Richmond Civic Society.

The tiny theatre has been given the society’s Amenity Award, for its innovation in creating an exciting visitor “experience” in its old museum space. Investment to the tune of £500,000 has been invested in the theatre this year after a large bequest from a former associate director, and a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which has allowed the trustees to create interactive displays more appealing to visitors.

The award praises the theatre for its role in boosting the local economy as one of the major tourist attractions in the town.

In times of austerity, it is good to hear of a combined effort to bring people in and encourage them to return.