Highbridge library will be hosting a special consultation day today (Thursday) when users can find out more about the County Council’s controversial plans that include the possible closure of the facilities.
As first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com, Somerset County Council says Highbridge Library could close under its cost-cutting proposals unless local volunteers are found to keep it open.
A consultation drop-in session will be held at Highbridge Library during Thursday (15th February) from 10am – 1pm when users can find out more.
A report considered by county councillors says the cutbacks are expected to deliver between £300,000 and £520,000 of annual savings across Somerset.
The council says that Highbridge Library has a catchment population of 6,786 people, but it has just 288 active borrowers, and an annual footfall of 3,786 people.
The council proposes to “provide library services through either a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Highbridge; or by delivering outreach library services such as events, activities, small book collections and/or public computer terminals via alternative venues.”
Highbridge town councillor Cllr John Parkes told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I am very concerned about the future for Highbridge Library and would encourage local people to have their say.”
“The number of users has decreased because Highbridge Library’s opening hours have been cut back to just nine and a half hours a week. It’s no longer open outside normal working hours, or when children want to use it after school, so of course the usage figures are low.”
He added: “Given that Highbridge’s only secondary school, King Alfred School, is improving after a poor OFSTED rating, you would hope that it’s more important than ever for Somerset County Council to help improve young people’s literacy by providing a library here.”
Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, Cllr David Hall, right, says: “These are challenging financial times and we must put libraries on a sustainable financial footing for the long-term, whilst still delivering a modern thriving library service across our County.”
“Library services will continue across Somerset whatever the response from this consultation, but our proposals highlight that keeping some libraries open may require community support. Where we are unable to keep libraries open, we will deliver library services in other ways such as via alternative venues or mobile library services.”
“I would stress that no decision about the future delivery of library services in any community has been taken and no decision will be made until the results of this consultation have been fully analysed. Please take the opportunity to submit your views on the proposals and offer your ideas or suggestions for any alternative proposals you may have.”
Somerset County Council’s consultation on the future of how its library services can be accessed at: www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.