Village library saved from closure
PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 January 2011
CHEDDAR library could be saved from closure after council bosses changed their mind over plans to withdraw funding.
Campaigners are celebrating following Somerset County Council’s announcement this week that the Cheddar service is among nine libraries that may no longer face the axe.
Council bosses announced last month that they were considering closing 20 of the 34 public libraries in Somerset in order to slash 25 per cent off their library service budget.
But following county-wide protests and campaigns, the council has revealed new proposals, which would keep the vital Union Street service running.
Bruce Rance, chairman of Friends of Cheddar Library, which was set up to fight the closure, said: “It’s good to hear that the county has listened to all the objections from residents and decided our library should stay open.
“Closing the library would have been a shattering blow for the village but the strength of feeling among residents and the support we had from our parish council has obviously made a difference.
“The group is anxious to see its library properly resourced from now on although it realises that money is short and there will probably be cuts in opening hours.”
Despite celebrations taking place in Cheddar, residents in Highbridge have not been so fortunate.
Their library is among six that will close in September unless communities step in and take them over, and another five libraries could close in 2012 if similar measures are not taken.
Bruce added: “The friends are also keen to see the fight continue to save the 11 libraries that are closing in September or being given a stay of execution until 2012.”
SCC leader Councillor Ken Maddock said: “We have listened to what people said and put our residents’ views at the heart of our decision making.
“We carried out a hugely effective public consultation and the overwhelming message was that people understood the savings needed but wanted us to spread the cuts more evenly - that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Council chiefs say savings of £1.35m will still be achieved but only if library opening hours are cut by around 20 per cent and users will be asked to make voluntary donations to help fund the service.