High levels of usage, high bus fares to Taunton, and high levels of deprivation in parts of the town turned out to be the factors that saved Wellington library from closure. In its review of future library services just published Somerset County Council recommended keeping the town’s library open for these reasons.
However, Wiveliscombe’s library is likely to close unless a volunteer-led Community Library Partnership is formed. Across the county 14 other libraries are likely to shut unless this model can be made to work. A final decision on the recommendations will be made in November.
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member with responsibility for libraries at Somerset County Council, said: “We received excellent feedback from this year’s library services consultation and thank you to everyone who took part. It reinforced what we already knew; strong, thriving, modernised library services are as important to you as they are to us.
“This is a once in a generation review. The network of library buildings in Somerset has remained unchanged for around 40 years. We have to modernise library services and re-design them to meet local needs more effectively. We need to strike the right balance of delivering a thriving, dynamic and comprehensive library service, which meets our statutory obligations, whilst living within our financial means.”
Here are highlights that saved Wellington Library
Although access to Taunton town centre is reasonable, in particular with good and frequent public transport links, Taunton is not within reasonable cycling distance, and the cost of public transport is high
(£6.60 for an adult return).
A significant number of people in Wellington currently live within walking distance of a library building, and the cost of public transport to Taunton would have an impact on a relatively large number of people. Public computer access is well used, and there are a number of events, including events for parents and young children who may not be able to travel to Taunton.
The population of Wellington is relatively large, and significant housing growth is forecast. Wellington is a ‘Tier 1’ town, with a number of employment sites, close to a motorway junction. Although there is a strong draw to nearby Taunton, Wellington town centre provides a good range of services, with 2 supermarkets and other amenities drawing in shoppers from the surrounding rural areas. Usage of Wellington library is high
Although need is not as high as in parts of Taunton, there are significant levels of need in some neighbourhoods in Wellington. There are high levels of education deprivation and social isolation in some parts of the town, as well as some income and employment deprivation. Income deprivation and usage of the public computer access, and the cost of reaching Taunton by public transport,was highlighted in a number of consultation responses.
Here’s one public response that swayed the report:
“Public transport to Taunton is expensive, particularly for the many on low incomes who use the computers etc in their search for work. Parking costs are much higher than in Wellington and I am sure there are elderly clients who are happy to drive into Wellington but would not choose to drive into Taunton with congestion.”