Somerton Library under threat
Whilst the proposal for the future of Somerset libraries published last week suggests that Langport would keep a county council run library, Somerton has not been so lucky. The current proposals suggest that the library would be kept open as a facility run (and paid for) by the community. Or worse, possibly replaced with a mobile library service. Friends of Somerton Library (FOSL) put out the following statement in advance of the consultation:
Since its successful legal judgement in 2011 which kept open libraries Somerset County Council were intending to cease funding , Friends of Somerset Libraries (FOSL) has been engaging constructively with Somerset County Council (SCC) to ensure that it continues to discharge its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service in Somerset. We recognise the progress made by SCC to date in being able to keep all libraries open whilst reducing costs by some 20%. The latest situation is that due to further central government funding reductions to local authorities, by 2020 additional cuts are being proposed to library budgets. FOSL has continued to represent strongly to SCC that it should try its hardest to keep libraries open, or provide acceptable alternative models.
We are pleased, therefore, that after representations by FOSL, SCC have recognised that they must maintain a statutory service not only in in library buildings, but through any possible alternative models such as community partnership libraries, outreach services, or different delivery models. We have also pressed for consultation directly with each library area in Somerset, as well as through public participation. We therefore support the basis of the current consultation being undertaken which should see direct consultation with each community where a library is situated.
We continue to have concerns, however, whether there will be sufficient resources available to ensure that the alternative models can be adequately funded, and would urge SCC to do their utmost to achieve acceptable resolution of this issue during the consultation process. We urge communities to engage with the consultation if they value their library service.