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  1. ITV Report

Fifteen Somerset libraries could be closed

Fifteen libraries could be closed in Somerset. Photo: ITV News

Fifteen libraries are at risk of closing as part of budget cuts in Somerset, unless volunteers come forward to save them.

The County Council has said up to £500,000 could be saved by the plans which may involve more mobile libraries and alternative venues.

Campaigners have told ITV News they hope solutions can be found to keep as many services as possible.

In 2011, Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils were blocked from withdrawing funding from some libraries by a High Court judge. Credit: ITV News

In 2011, Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils were blocked from withdrawing funding from some libraries by a High Court judge.

Campaigners took the legal action saying it was unfair on disadvantaged people.

John Irven was involved in that legal action. He lives in Watchet which has one of the libraries that could close without public help.

John Irven was involved in the 2011 legal action. Credit: ITV News

The question will come when we look at the final resources available, how much local communities can or can't contribute into these areas and what the ultimate solution is.

But let's not pre-judge it before we start, let's actively engage and hopefully come up with solutions.

– John Irven, Friends of Somerset Librarians

Many say the library in Watchet would be a big loss if it goes.

I know how many of the local young families access the library to use the computers.

The other thing is that a lot of older people, particularly - not only do they pop in and pick up lots of books but they also access the library for support, actually, with technology and the computer services that library offers.

– Izzy Silvester, Library User
Locals claim that many young families use the library. Credit: ITV News

Somerset County Council's proposal affects twenty two libraries right across the county - from Porlock in the west to Bruton in the east.

Fifteen could close completely and all have been earmarked to be kept open through potential partnerships with people living in the local community.

The council says no decisions have been made yet. They want feedback from people before that happens.

It's a completely open process so I really do encourage people not just to think about the potential financial savings but also how the service can be re-shaped, improved and changed, brought up to date because it's really important that the library service in Somerset is sustainable for the future.

– Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council

It's not just in Somerset that libraries have been threatened. Bristol City Council last year announced plans to close twenty seven of them leading to huge public opposition.

In Somerset the council believes the public could be the key to keeping library services if not permanent library buildings in places like Watchet going forward.

The council says no decisions have been made yet. Credit: ITV News