Nine Somerset libraries 'could be saved' under plans

Library generic
Image caption Nine libraries that were threatened with closure could be saved

Nine libraries in Somerset that were threatened with closure could be saved under new proposals.

Twenty of the county council's 34 libraries were earmarked for closure. The plans were changed following a series of consultations.

In a new proposal nine - Glastonbury, Cheddar, Ilminster, Martock, Somerton, Shepton Mallet, Dulverton, Castle Cary and Wiveliscombe - could be retained.

However, six libraries could still be closed in the current year.

Those at risk of closure in the next year are Porlock, Highbridge, Watchet, Sunningdale, Bishops Lydeard and Bruton. Under the plans, they would be offered to the community to run.

Eleven would lose their funding and a remaining five libraries - South Petherton, North Petherton, Nether Stowey, Milborne Port and Priorswood - would have until next year to find alternative funding, or face closure.

'Year's grace'

Bill Revans, North Petherton mayor and Liberal Democrat town councillor, said he was hopeful North Petherton library could remain open.

He said: "What I understand is it gives us basically a year's grace in order to put an alternative package of funding and train some volunteers to keep our library open.

"Certainly a better situation than we were faced with at Christmas when we were given the harsh deadline of trying to get some funding in place for a possible April closure."

A spokesman for the Conservative-controlled county council said reductions in opening hours across all libraries in the county would help achieve the planned £1.35m saving.

The plans would also see library users asked to make "voluntary donations".

Council leader Ken Maddock said: "We have listened to what people said and put our residents' views at the heart of our decision making.

"We carried out a hugely effective public consultation and the overwhelming message was that people understood the savings needed but wanted us to spread the cuts more evenly - that's what we're looking to do."

The proposals are due to go before councillors next month.

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