Children and staff at Highbridge’s Churchfield School have this week issued a plea to Somerset County Council to halt its controversial plans to shut the town’s library.
The school’s pupils and head teacher have given their backing to the campaign to halt the possible closure of Highbridge Library.
Using National Book Week as their theme, pupils dressed up as their favourite book characters to show their support.
And Justin Philcox, Churchfield Church School Headteacher spoke out against the closure plans.
He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Just as a house without books is an impoverished house, so it is inconceivable that any school can fully engage pupil’s imaginations without the aid of books to suit all ages and abilities.”
“Churchfield Church School is working hard on making sure every child at school has developed a love of reading. The library is an important resource within our community and the children and staff are proud to support the Save Highbridge Library Campaign.”
“We can only hope that Somerset County Council realises the special nature of our Highbridge community, and finds ways continues to fund our local library with at least the trained staff and hours it currently has.”
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 ‘Save Highbridge Library’ campaign petition is available to sign online here and has already attracted many signatures.
A report considered by county councillors says the cutbacks are expected to deliver between £300,000 and £520,000 of annual savings across Somerset.
Somerset County 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’s consultation on the future of how its library services can be accessed is online at: www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.
Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development, Cllr David Hall, pictured 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.”
But one of the protesters, Sheila Forrester from Highbridge, says: “Some people can’t get to another library as they haven’t got the money to do so. Highbridge needs a library – it’s only open part-time and it isn’t going to be a big saving to the council to shut it. It is an area of deprivation with the second highest deprivation in the country, so it has a good case.”
Poctured: The library protest by Churchfield School children and the threatened library (photos: Burnham-On-Sea.com / David Pearce)