Fresh fears over library future

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 June 2011

Highbridge01  ;   Highbridge in the Springtime    12-04-10   DK

Highbridge01 ; Highbridge in the Springtime 12-04-10 DK

Copyright Archant Ltd

THE future of Highbridge's library has again come under scrutiny, after doubts were raised over whether it will receive enough funding to survive.

The facility was saved from closure in April, after Burnham and Highbridge Town Council agreed a cut-price deal with Somerset County Council.

But now town councillors have expressed concern over how it will be funded beyond this year, and whether enough volunteers will actually come forward to keep it running.

The library in Market Street was originally threatened by closure in December after the county council said it could no longer afford to run the facility.

Part of the deal which saved the library in April was that the county council would pay up to £5,000 towards staff costs, but that funding is likely to disappear after the current financial year.

Town councillor Phil Harvey said: “The situation is uncertain. Although we’ve got funding from Somerset County Council for this year, that won’t be there next year, which will mean we would have to pay a lot more to run it.

“There are obviously concerns over this. If there is a grant, then it’s only for this year, so the costs for next year would obviously be much higher than we are currently paying towards it.”

Councillor Ken Smout believes that making the library sustainable must be the main goal for the council in keeping the facility open.

He said: “With these things that are being handed down to us by Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council, that means that we’ve got to look at things like a business, we’ve got to make things sustainable.

“What I’m concerned about that lots of people have come forward in the short term, and a year on there being no resilience there to keep the library going.”The town council issued a fresh appeal for volunteers on Monday, with town clerk Eileen Shaw currently writing to the volunteers who were recruited earlier in the year.

A statement from the clerk said: “Full details of a draft service level agreement being drawn up by Somerset County Council are awaited, but in the meantime the Town Council is anxious to increase its data base of potential volunteers to assist with the future running of the library.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should call the town clerk on 01278 788088.

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