June 7, 2011
fears raised over viability of threatened Highbridge Library
fears were raised by town councillors on Monday evening (June
6th) regarding whether Highbridge Library can be saved from closure.
Several councillors expressed concerns about the viability of
the library during a full town council meeting.
am extremely concerned for the long-term sustainability of the
library since some of the volunteers who previously offered to
help us are no longer available," said Cllr Helen Groves.
"I have had a long-term involvement with Highbridge Library
and don't want it to close but I also do wonder why the Town Council
should take on services like libraries when it's the County Council's
role to run them. We are simply giving them an excuse to pass
them on to us by giving financial help."
a debate about whether the council should support the library
financially, Cllr Ken Smout added: "We've faced losing post
offices, libraries, the TIC and even The Princess over the past
18 months. As a council, we're trying to save key community facilities
where we can."
Phil Harvey added: "We are an insidious position as more
services like libraries are devolved to us from principal authorities.
Public toilets and dog bins have already been passed on to us
from the County Council. We are put at a disadvantage because
while the County can claim revenue support grants, we cannot and
this means there's a greater cost to bear on our community as
householders foot the bill."
pledged £4,000 to Highbridge Library this year but it could
be £9,500 next year and, once other related costs such as
cleaning are considered, I think the realistic sum will be nearer
£12,000. I wonder whether we should do it," he said.
Cllr Neville Jones responded that Burnham's Tourist Centre had
proven that voluntary groups, such as BIARS (Burnham Information
And Rescue Support), which runs the seafront centre, can work
well and that this could be repeated at Highbridge Library.
Burridge-Clayton added: "We saw a burning desire in place
earlier this year to save the library, but it looks as though
that may be dimming. Someone needs to grasp this and take it forward
- it would be a great shame to see it go."
Clerk Eileen Shaw told the meeting she would check how many volunteers
are still interested in helping and report back at the July council
to Burnham-On-Sea.com afterwards, Highbridge district councillor
Joe Leach added: "I am very concerned that several councillors
who were very vocal about keeping the library open earlier in
the year now appear to be backing away from too much involvement.
I think we should be looking towards central government to fund
Highbridge library, not just local councils."