Somerset

Somerset County Council considers cuts to libraries budget

Generic library Image copyright PA
Image caption The council is considering handing over the running of the library service to local groups

Cuts to libraries are being reconsidered by Somerset County Council to save £12m from next year's budget.

In 2011, the council was forced to shelve its plans to withdraw funding to 11 libraries after a judicial review.

Now the authority is considering whether to hand over the running of the service to local groups.

Council leader David Fothergill said: "We have to find different models of operating libraries which may mean we won't be operating them directly."

He said the council has had £100m of its budget cut by the government over the past few years.

Public consultation

"We haven't put in any savings for this year for libraries - what we want to do is go out to consultation and find out the best way to provide our library services," he said.

"If money is being taken off us as a county council by central government we have to [be] reviewing the services we deliver."

The proposals may also involve fewer libraries being run in the county by the local authority.

The public consultation will begin in the autumn before any decision is made.

Meanwhile, Bath and North East Somerset Council is running its own consultation on library services.

It wants to merge the library with the council's own One Stop Shop customer service centre at Lewis House to make savings.

However, plans to move the central library out of its current home in the Podium have been opposed by the public.

The unitary authority has already ruled out using the Guildhall. It could either be kept where it is or moved into Lewis House, which has been described in a report as "intimidating and undesirable" for disabled people.

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