Somerset

Library volunteers scheme criticised by community group

Porlock Library, Somerset
Image caption The library, housed in the former Porlock School, was one of the libraries at risk of closure in 2011

A pilot scheme using volunteers to run a library in Porlock, Somerset, has been criticised by a community group.

Somerset County Council is hoping to save £850,000 over the next three years with "community supported libraries".

It follows a High Court ruling in 2011 that the council's decision to withdraw funding to 11 libraries was unlawful.

But Peter Murphy, from Friends of Somerset Libraries, said not having a "professionally run and staffed" library was "the wrong way to go".

He said: "A community run library implies to me that what is envisaged is completely handing over the library and its services to community volunteers.

"And that to me, and to most of us at Friends of Somerset Libraries, is certainly the wrong way to go because we believe in a professionally run and a professionally staffed public library service."

David Hall, deputy leader of the council, said volunteers could "potentially provide a better service".

"Porlock Parish Council was one of the first to step forward after the council asked parish councils and community groups, earlier this year, to express an interest in getting more involved in the running of their library," he said,

"And the volunteers have received lots of training and we will continue to support throughout the pilot."

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