January 5, 2011
residents urge council: 'Don't shut Highbridge library'
Dozens of residents
attended a special public consultation event in Burnham-On-Sea
on Tuesday (January 4th) to air their views about controversial
council plans to withdraw funding for Highbridge Library.
Council's public consultation roadshow was held in Burnham's
Princess Theatre, where residents heard about the council's proposals
to slash funding for Highbridge library and seek volunteers to
Burnham-On-Sea.com reported last
month that the library is on a hit list of 20 across Somerset
which the council wants to wind down as part of its ongoing £75million
Many residents like Ken Oasgood, who is pictured above with Somerset's
Senior Libraries Manager Phil Nicholls at Tuesday's event, are
angry about the plans.
told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "It's appalling that the council
is considering closing Highbridge Library. Libraries are vital
for our community and I feel very sad for the staff who will be
losing their jobs. I'm also very cynical about these public consultation
events, given that a lot of the decisions seem to have already
been taken about the library's future."
Another resident, Mike Long, told Burnham-On-Sea.com at Tuesday's
event: "Libraries are 'poor man's universities' and provide
many services, including PCs and Internet access, to help people
develop themselves. To lose Highbridge library would be a huge
loss for this community."
Town councillor Chris Williams, who also attended the event,
said: "I don't think these proposals have been fully thought
through. Soon, we'll be seeing public transport links cut which
means some residents won't be able to travel to libraries outside
their area. The closure of Highbridge and other libraries would
have a huge impact on many people."
Cllr Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council's Cabinet Member
for Community, pictured right, said during Tuesday's event: "These
are extremely difficult financial times and, unfortunately, tough
decisions have got to be made. Changes are needed and these are
sadly likely to affect Highbridge."
The council has previously said that Highbridge Library is among
the county's worst performing libraries by visitor numbers, making
The council's consultation period closes on 14th January and
the feedback will be reported to the 2nd February meeting of the
County Council's Cabinet, which is due to decide whether the proposals
should be agreed by the Full Council on 16th February. Have your
say by filling in the feedback
Meanwhile, Highbridge Library will be holding an open day from
10am-12pm this Saturday (8th January) to raise public awareness
of Somerset County Council's proposal to close 20 libraries across
Somerset and to allow residents of Highbridge to take part in
the Libraries Consultation Questionnaire. There will be tea, coffee
and biscuits available and a storyteller will be visiting for
a special storytime for children (age 3-8) from 10.30am-11am featuring
some favourite fairy tales.