Published: December 4, 2012
Libraries in Burnham and Highbridge to benefit from new investment

Libraries in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge look set to benefit from new investment by Somerset County Council.

A new council strategy for libraries across Somerset - including those in Burnham and Highbridge - was outlined to councillors on Tuesday (December 4th) that will see 'community hubs' being set up and a significant increase in funding for books.

Members of the County Council's Scrutiny Committee heard details of a review of the service in which pilot schemes are to be set up where public services will share space in libraries, and communities will have a greater say in how their libraries are run.

The strategy could deliver savings of more than £860,000 over three years and possibly result in longer opening hours.

The broad strategy was supported by the campaign group Friends of Somerset Libraries, whose Chairman, Peter Murphy, said: "I am pleased that the Friends have engaged with this review and I would say that the engagement has been constructive on both sides."

The Council's spending on books is normally £200,000, but will be increased by an extra £250,000 over the next two years.

It comes just days after the council conceded that the cost of losing a judicial legal review into an earlier plan to restructure part of Somerset's library service was £200,000, as reported here.

The Cabinet Member responsible for Libraries, Cllr David Hall, said on Tuesday: "We are living in tight financial times and we should not lose sight of that. I believe this strategy will both save money and create a library service fit for the future. I am grateful for the involvement of all those people who have taken the trouble to come forward and be part of this work."

The new library strategy proposes that libraries should be provided according to need, demand and value for money; that libraries should be developed into community hubs; that libraries should be responsible to, and supported by, their local communities.

Pictured: Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge libraries, which could benefit from the new council strategy

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