A ‘consultation’ over the planned change to Cheddar Library by Somerset County Council takes place this winter as the county seeks to save money by closing libraries across Somerset.
The consultation gives a number of options for residents to choose from. In a document the county reports: “Cheddar: Provide library services through either: · a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Cheddar (supported by some funding from the County Council), or · an additional mobile library stop.”
They add on the county’s website: “We stress that library services will continue across Somerset, whatever the outcome of this consultation. If we are unable to keep library buildings open in communities, we will deliver library services in other ways, such as through outreach (i.e. in alternative venues within communities), online or mobile library services.”
There is scepticism amongst members of the Friends of Cheddar Library who feel the consultation is little more than a public relations exercise with the outcome already decided at County Hall in Taunton. In a document available online called Somerset Library Service Consultation 2018 Appendix 1: Library Service Proposals for Consultation the numbers of those using the various libraries in the area are shown. The numbers of users are listed along with footfall which show Cheddar to be used by fewer people than Wells and Shepton Mallet. This say the Friends is because fewer people live in the Cheddar area and it is open for fewer hours.
The Friends of Cheddar Library have launched a campaign to fight the plans. They have made a video outlining the reasons why the library should be retained and are lobbying councillors to retain the community facility as it is more than just a library as it is used as a meeting place, gallery and social hub. They are urging residents to engage in the consultation to send a message to County Hall that the library must not be closed.
The consultation in Cheddar is at the Cheddar Library on Friday 23 March with hourly sessions at 2:30pm, 3.30pm and 4:30pm but opens online before that on Monday 29 January 2018. More details at http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk
The Friends have a Facebook site where their activities and campaign plans are announced.