Council promises ‘there will still be library services’ in places where buildings could close
PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 February 2018
North Somerset Council has hit back at claims moving and closing its libraries will have a detrimental effect on its services.
The Times reported last week how the authority plans to close library buildings in Clevedon, Long Ashton and Nailsea to save about £140,000.
Long Ashton may have only a mobile service in the future, while Nailsea and Clevedon’s library service is earmarked to be relocated to ‘smaller premises’ or ‘shared facilities’.
Nailsea Town Council said it was not consulted over the proposals.
Town councillor Jeremy Blatchford, who was an executive member on North Somerset until the election in 2015, criticised the plans.
He said: “Towns and parishes, particularly Nailsea, are more than willing to help you.
“Nailsea is one of the most popular libraries in the region and we still have issues facing closure and reorganisation.
“No-one has come to the (town) council before we set the precept and said ‘would you like to work with us?’
“What we would like is for you to have someone specifically tasked to work with the parish councillors.
“You will find there’s an open door and you need to take it up quickly.”
Cllr Felicity Baker, the executive member responsible for the library service, said Clevedon and Nailsea’s libraries would have increased opening hours wherever they end up.
She said: “If the proposals go ahead there will still be library services in all three communities affected, but these have to be affordable within the context of our reduced budgets.
“The alternative is not having a library service at all, as is happening in many other parts of the country.”
Nailsea councillor Andy Cole said closing the library and moving it to a smaller building would ‘negatively impact on other resources’.
He said: “Nailsea Library is a tremendous asset to the town centre, with almost a third of the population using this facility from the iconic building.
“It makes absolutely no sense to reduce and downgrade the library, especially with a pending population increase due to increased housing proposals.”
The plans will be put before the full council on Tuesday for members to vote on.
Assuming the vote is in favour of the proposed changes, a public consultation process will follow before anything is implemented.