David Warburton MP Discusses the Future of Local Libraries with Somerset County Council
9th March 2018 - - David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome, met with Somerset County Council Councillors David Hall and Clare Aparico to discuss the future of Somerset’s libraries and voice the concerns of local residents about potential library closures.
A consultation on the future delivery of Somerset library services started at the end of January, asking members of the public to review proposals based on the library they visit most often. In total, nine area proposals are available to view covering proposals for each of Somerset’s 34 libraries.
The proposals reveal that in David’s constituency of Somerton & Frome there will be no change to the delivery of library services in Frome, Langport or Wincanton.
For libraries in Bruton, Castle Cary, Milborne Port, Somerton and Martock, community support may be required to keep library buildings open.
Somerset County Council assured David that where it is not possible to keep library buildings open in future, library services would instead be provided either through outreach in community venues or through additional mobile library stops.
The County Council emphasised that no decisions have been made, and won’t be made, until the consultation (open until Sunday 22 April) has ended and the results fully analysed.
The library budget has reduced by 20% since 2011, keeping all library buildings open. This saving was made by increasing efficiency, generating new income streams, sharing services, reducing back office functions and changing opening hours. However, the County Council stressed the library service needed to be more sustainable going forward.
David Warburton MP said, “Many of my constituents have been in touch to voice their concerns over the future of local libraries, so it was extremely useful to meet with councillors David Hall and Clare Aparicio to review Somerset County Council’s proposals. Libraries offer many vital services to local communities but if they are not sufficiently used, it becomes a challenge to find the resources to maintain them. It is reassuring to know that in cases where it may not be possible to maintain the library, the services will continue to be provided via alternative means.”
Cllr David Hall, Cabinet Member for Resources and Economic Development at Somerset County Council, said: “I urge everyone to look at the information on our website, www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation, review the proposal for the library they visit most often and complete the questionnaire online telling us their thoughts on our proposals. I stress that is just what they are at this stage. Proposals. No decisions have been made.
He continued, “I know libraries are a hugely important part of life here in Somerset and whatever the outcome of this consultation, they will continue to be. However, like many authorities, we face challenging financial times. This consultation, however, is not all about saving money. It’s about bringing the service up to date and making it sustainable for the future. We want to know what residents want so we can best match that to our resources.”