Somerset Labour Party is backing campaigners who have fought to keep libraries in the county open. Labour has given its support to a statement by Friends of Somerset Libraries, which says a quality service should continue to be delivered through 34 libraries across the county.
Friends of Somerset Libraries (FOSL) mounted a successful legal challenge when Somerset County Council proposed to withdraw funding from 11 small and medium sized libraries in 2010. Watchet library was at the centre of the case in the High Court.
FSOL is now asking all parties in the county election where they stand. And Labour was delighted to respond. Labour has told FSOL:
• We support a guarantee of no library closures in 2013-14 and would seek to keep all 34 libraries open in future.
• We believe the proposed 25 per cent savings in the library service is too much, in the context of years of underfunding
• We support the retention of the Enquiry centre, which helps people who cannot get to a library
• We support piloting of new ways to bring the library service to smaller communities
• We believe the library service should be professionally run.
Labour’s response was drafted by Dunster candidate Andy Lewis. He said:
“This part of the county has been at the forefront of the fight to keep libraries open. West Somerset Labour Party gave financial and moral backing to FOSL in its court challenge. As FOSL has pointed out, Somerset has one of the highest levels of library use in the country. We believe Somerset people have a right to a high quality service wherever they live.”