A COUNCIL has pledged to back a project which aims to recruit more than 100 volunteers to safeguard the futures of three local libraries.

Philip Wicks approached Richmond Town Council for help with his scheme to save Richmond, Catterick Garrison and Colburn libraries, which are currently being run with just a handful of volunteers.

He has proposed the group take on a short-term employee who would oversee the volunteers, help arrange their training, and organise rotas until the full team was up and running.

Mr Wicks is looking for £10,000 for the project, and was delighted the council agreed to pay between £5,000 and £7,500, depending on how other town and parish councils agree to contribute.

He said: “The figure of £10,000 is the total cost across all three libraries, and we are trying to recruit volunteers to work across all three.

“We have held three volunteer events so far, aimed at people who have expressed an interest over the last 12 months, and got about 45 volunteers – but we will need about 100 to keep opening hours going and to hopefully even work towards increasing them.”

Mr Wicks said he, as part of a small group running the project, was also applying to the Charity Commission for charity status, and the employee will be self-employed.

He added: “We need someone to get us over the initial hump. At the moment there are just five of us across three libraries.”

Cllr Stuart Parsons said: “North Yorkshire County Council will provide extensive training. But the cuts are coming so the volunteers will have to take this forwards otherwise we will lose our library.”

He proposed the council offer £7,500, but other councillors were concerned that the figure was too high and thought other councils should share the financial burden.

Cllr John Harris suggested paying at least £5,000, and up to £7,500, depending on what other authorities could pay.

Cllr Parsons countered that as Richmond had the largest and most well-used library, the council should shoulder the burden.

Councillors agreed to support the project with between £5,000 and £7,500. Mr Wicks said he would be approaching Colburn and Hipswell parish councils as well. To volunteer visit Richmond, Catterick or Colburn library.