Somerset County Council has this week confirmed that Highbridge Library will close for the final time at the end of December.
Cash-strapped Somerset County Council is cutting funding to library services across the county and had identified Highbridge Library as one of 15 where ‘Community Library Partnerships’ were proposed for volunteers to run the library – but no group came forward by the deadline.
So the County Council has this week announced that Highbridge Library will close after opening hours on Saturday 29th December 2018.
A poster was put up inside the library at the weekend to inform library users of the sad decision and how they can use alternative services.
The poster states: “Following a public consultation earlier this year, a decision was taken by Somerset County Council on 5 November to reduce the future funding of Highbridge Library.”
“The County Council invited expressions of Interest from the community for potential partners to continue services from a library building in Highbridge as a Community Library Partnership. No such Expression of interest was received and therefore Highbridge Library will close after opening hours on Saturday 29 December 2018.”
“The Library Service will be providing library outreach services for Highbridge in early 2019. There will be regular pop-up activities, including reading and other activities for the under 5s and ‘Pop-up’ technology events for older children and adults.”
“Library services will continue at Burnham-On-Sea Library. From 7 December 2018 you will be unable to choose Highbridge as a reservation pickup location and should choose another library instead e.g. Burnham-On-Sea Library.”
“Any requested items which are due to be delivered to Highbridge after 29 December 2018 will be sent to Burnham-On-Sea Library for collection. From 2 January 2019/ please return items to any other library in Somerset or the LibrariesWest area such as Burnham-On-Sea Library.”
The closure came after Burnham and Highbridge town councillors decided not to proceed with a rescue plan last month.
Speaking to Burnham-On-Sea.com this week, Town Council Clerk Tatiana Cant said: “We are all very saddened that the Highbridge Library has had to close. It is always a real shame when a facility which is so important to the community has to close its doors.”
“Everyone is aware of the constraints faced by Somerset County Council which was no longer able to provide the library service without a significant local contribution. The Town Council worked hard over many months to explore all possible options to keep the library open.”
“Several discussions were held with Somerset County Council as well as with other interested parties such as nearby post offices to see if co-located services might be possible.”
“Despite these efforts, there were no satisfactory offers of commitment forthcoming from the campaign group, schools or neighbouring parishes, and the Town Council recognised that with the best will in the world, they would have to call it a day and focus on other initiatives which would bring benefits to local residents.”
The slimmed-down libraries service across Somerset will save the cash-strapped County Council £345,000 for 2019/20 to include £270K from the proposed reduction in operating library buildings and £75K from savings directly identified from consultation feedback such as reduction in management costs.