MPs are examining a council’s decision to charge groups of volunteers working to save public libraries thousands of pounds in business rates.

Conservatives Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak are understood to be in discussions over Hambleton District Council’s move to only allow 80 per cent relief - which is afforded to all charitable groups - on the rates to community-run libraries, despite the six other district authorities in the county granting full relief.

There are also concerns the charges of up to £4,000 could jeopardise the ventures in Thirsk, Stokesley, Bedale and Easingwold, which are due to be launched in the spring as North Yorkshire County Council steps away from managing them.

Councillor Mark Robson, the Tory-run authority’s leader has said if it waived the 20 per cent business rates charge, it could face a bill of £350,000 following requests for 100 per cent relief from all the other charitable groups in the district.

He said he had already been approached by one charity over the issue and highlighted that the district authority had been put in the position as a result of the county council’s decision to off-load the libraries.

However, other councillors have disputed Cllr Robson’s claims, saying as the community-run libraries should be given an exemption as they can be classed as public assets, unlike premises such as charity shops.

Mr Hollinrake, whose constituency includes Thirsk and Easingwold, said: “If people are willing to take on the libraries, I think we should be very grateful to them and support them however we can.

“If people see this as a blame game between the local authorities that operate in the same area, that’s not what people want to hear. They want to see justice is done.

“I want to hear what Mark Robson has to say, because on the face of it this does not seem right. We have got to do whatever we can.”

As the county council moves towards changing the running of all its libraries to being supported or run by volunteers, its executive is being asked to approve an investment fund of £350,000 to help libraries meet their modern role.

The one-off investment would be available to libraries across the county for minor improvements, furniture and fittings to help to give them the flexibility needed to deliver the widening range of services now being offered by libraries.