fighting Highbridge Library closure win Town Council support
and Highbridge councillors have this week unanimously supported
the campaign to save Highbridge Library from closure after hearing
concerns from local residents.
this week's council meeting, councillors voted in favour of saving
and extending the library service, which is threatened by cost-cutting
at Somerset County Council.
came after campaigners brought banners into the council chambers
to spell out the message that closure is not an option.
heard from Highbridge library user John Fones, who has been a resident
for 13 years. He said that the service is a vital community
asset and explained that a strong reading culture is
needed to help local young people develop.
Janet Keen agreed, adding that it is so sad that some local
teenagers need adult literacy classes to catch up as they lack articulation
and proper development.
Sheila Forrester, who has used Highbridge Library for 15 years,
recited a poem to councillors on why the library is socially so
important to the town. Our local children will suffer if there
is no library, she said.
the library would be so short-sighted - Highbridge is the poor relation
of the two towns and badly needs this facility, she added.
Phil Harvey agreed, and outlined an eight-page paper hes prepared
on why the library should be saved from closure. He explained that
this is for education, deprivation and literacy reasons and
to support rapid growth of the town in coming years.
1,291 extra homes coming to Highbridge in the next ten years and
more to come, its vital that Somerset County Council considers
the overall impact and needs, he said. They decided
to save the childrens centre, so why not the library too?
Andy Brewer responded: We must retain the library service,
but we should look at enhancing the service just keeping
it open is not enough. It needs to be improved if its to be
Debbie Matthews agreed: I fully support it being kept open
and she questioned whether its use could be increased with an expansion
of community groups using it.
Keen said that the number of people using the library are so important.
Usage really lets it down - there need to be more reasons
to visit it.
John Parkes said: It absolutely must be kept open. We shouldnt
only look at usage figures, though, when its only open for
nine and a half hours a week.
opening hours are a concern for Cllr Louise Parkin too, who explained:
Anyone running a business knows that operating part-time hours
does not work. We need an increase in hours and for them to be spread
equally across the week so everyone knows when the library is open.
Fiona Hector added that the service is so important to keep
open and Mayor Cllr Bill Hancock concluded: we are all
in agreement that it must be kept open.
councillors voted unanimously to support the retention and expansion
of Highbridge library.
proposal accepted was "The Town Council recognises that the
usage of Highbridge Library needs to improve if it is to be successful.
Accordingly it expresses its willingness to work with local Parish
Councils, the Library Service and other relevant bodies as part
of an integrated response to enhance the offer to residents. As
part of this, it will consider financial assistance."
final decision on the closure plans rests with Somerset County Council,
which is currently consulting on the proposals.
County Council says Highbridge Library could close under its
cost-cutting proposals unless local volunteers are found to keep
considered by county councillors says the cutbacks to libraries
are expected to deliver between £300,000 and £520,000
of annual savings across Somerset.