Somerset libraries at risk of closure

Highbridge Library is set to close with no-one keen to run it in future.Picture: Google Street View

Highbridge Library is set to close with no-one keen to run it in future.Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

Libraries in Somerset could face closures by early next year, Somerset County Council has revealed.

People in Highbridge may lose the town’s library by January next year, but the council has promised the community a continued service in the area if it is to close.

This comes after a report was released on Tuesday about the future of Somerset’s libraries ahead of the council confirming its final decision on whether to alter services or to start closures next month.

The council is looking to introduce Community Library Partnerships (CLPs) at 15 of Somerset’s affected services – which could prevent multiple closures in the area.

It has also said mobile stops and or outreach services would replace libraries if they were to close in towns and villages across the county.

Cabinet member responsible for libraries at the county council, David Hall, said: “We received excellent feedback from this year’s library services consultation and want to thank everyone who took part.

“It reinforced what we already knew and modernised library services are as important to you as they are to us.”

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The council would save £345,000 pounds by 2019-2020 on library services if the plans were to be approved, and the report comes after funding cuts to services have been made by central government in the area since 2013-2014.

“Many people told us they would prefer no changes to our library services, however this is not an option if we are to put the it on a sustainable footing for the future.

“We are now recommending changes to fewer libraries than set out in the original consultation proposals and we need to strike the right balance of delivering services while living within our financial means.”

A Save Highbridge Library campaign group was formed earlier this year when the idea of closure was first floated.

Burnham and Cheddar’s libraries will continue to be run by the authority and are among the 19 which will see no changes to the service provided.

The report will go to the council’s Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday before cabinet makes its final decision on November 5.

People in the areas where services are affected are being invited to submit a CLP Expression of Interest by noon on November 15.

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