Residents in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge are today being invited to have their say about controversial plans by Somerset County Council to withdraw funding for Highbridge Library.

The council is holding a public consultation exhibition at Burnham’s Princess Theatre in Princess Street today (Tuesday, January 4th) from 11am-2pm when residents will be able to air their views about the proposals for the library to be overseen by community volunteers.

“Members of the public are invited to drop-in anytime to the session to get more information, speak to staff, and give their views on the proposals. We expect that these sessions should take no longer than 20 or 30 minutes of people’s time,” County Council spokeswoman Jan Hookings told reported last month that Highbridge Library, pictured, is on a hit list of 20 Somerset libraries which the council wants to reduce funding for.

The proposed funding withdrawal is part of the council’s £75million cost cutting exercise across all its services. The library cut-backs would deliver a 25% saving on the current Somerset libraries budget of £5.4 million.

For those libraries where volunteers do take over, the council will offer advice and co-ordination and may also be able to support some IT costs.

The council has confirmed that funding for Burnham-On-Sea Library is safe for now, although it added that “there is potential for co-locating other public services at the library.”

Cllr Christine Lawrence, who is responsible for community services, said: “These are extremely difficult financial times and, unfortunately, tough decisions have been made in all areas of council business, from roads to recycling and including libraries. These proposals would create a library service that is fit to face the future, making use of new technology and with the potential to work closely with local communities.”

The council has previously said that Highbridge Library is among the county’s worst performing libraries by footfall, making it difficult to sustain.

The council’s consultation will close on 14th January and the feedback will be reported to the 2nd February meeting of the County Council’s Cabinet, which is due to recommend whether these proposals should be agreed by Full Council on 16th February.

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