Somerset libraries under threat again

Somerset libraries under threat again

Fifteen libraries in Somerset are under threat of closure with the council under pressure to make up to £520,000 worth of savings.

The council has launched a consultation about the proposals, which would mean 15 of the 34 library buildings would be forced into being run by volunteers to stay open.

The council has proposed the closures despite a 2011 High Court ruling which said that Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils would not be able to withdraw funding from some of their libraries.

The body said that the proposals “seek to put the service on a sustainable footing for the long-term, at a time when all council budgets are under enormous pressure”.

Councillor David Hall said: “These are challenging financial times. 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.”

Speaking about the new consultation, Friends of Somerset Libraries’s John Irven, told ITV News: “The question will come when we look at the final resources available, how much local communities can or can’t contribute into these areas and what the ultimate solution is. But let’s not pre-judge it before we start, let’s actively engage and hopefully come up with solutions.”

Somerset initially proposed to cut 20 of 34 libraries and to reduce mobile libraries from six services to two.