Published: January 5, 2012
Reprieve on the cards for Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge libraries

Opening times at Burnham-On-Sea library could soon be increased and the threat of closure hanging over Highbridge library could also be lifted after a report this week recommended that a series of library cutbacks should not go ahead.

Council officers have recommended that a series of financial cuts to library services across Somerset should not proceed after a High Court judicial review last November concluded they would be unlawful because they do not comply with equality laws.

If the recommendations are approved, Highbridge library will keep its funding and no longer be faced with closure, while opening hours at Burnham Library would revert back to the previous times.

The report to Somerset County Council says that not reverting library services to their pre-February state would make it "highly likely the council would be held in contempt of court."

Some 23 Somerset libraries - including Burnham's - had their hours cut by 20 per cent last October and 11 libraries - including Highbridge's - were told they would no longer be funded, leaving them likely to close.

The report also suggests that self-service facilities be introduced at several libraries across the county, including those in Burnham and Highbridge, at a cost of £600,000.

The county council had hoped to save £1.02million through the cutbacks but the report claims that those benefits will no longer be achieved.

A final decision on whether to accept the recommendations is due to be made by 11th January.


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