Published: January 25, 2011
No last-minute reprieve for closure-threatened Highbridge Library

Residents and councillors in Highbridge have reacted with dismay to this week's announcement by Somerset County Council that there will be no last-minute reprieve for the town's library.

The chances of the closure-threatened library in Market Street being saved have dimmed after the council announced plans to retain nine threatened libraries, but Highbridge was not among them. 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 a £75million cost-cutting exercise. It is seeking community volunteers to run it.

Following a consultation exercise, the County Council has this week unveiled a new proposal where nine libraries - Cheddar, Glastonbury, Martock, Somerton, Ilminster, Shepton Mallet, Dulverton, Castle Cary and Wiveliscombe - could be retained.

However, six libraries could still be shut in the current year - Highbridge, Porlock, Watchet, Sunningdale, Bishops Lydeard and Bruton.

Council leader 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."

The County Council has previously said that Highbridge Library is among the worst performing libraries in Somerset by visitor numbers, making it difficult to sustain. A final decision on its future will be taken in February 2011.


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