Area 3: Bridgwater and Burnham Proposal

Somerset Library Services Consultation 2018

Summary Proposal

Tell us your views on how we are proposing to deliver future library services in Bridgwater and Burnham and Surrounding Area 3 – Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Highbridge, Nether Stowey and North Petherton libraries.

The map below shows the existing five library buildings (green pins) in Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Highbridge, Nether Stowey and North Petherton, and the existing mobile library stops (green dots) – 14 stops in this area per month.

  • This includes much of Sedgemoor District and parts of the West Somerset District area.
  • It has the second highest population (102,300) of the nine Somerset areas considered within this consultation. Areas along the M5 corridor are relatively well populated and include the towns of Bridgwater (pop. 41,276), Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge (pop. 23,325). Other sizeable communities include North Petherton (pop. 3,142), Cannington (pop. 2,002) and Woolavington (pop. 2,115).  To the west of Bridgwater, the rural area is sparsely populated. The area also extends inland from the coast into the Somerset Levels.
  • Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea library catchments between them cover the entire area. Nether Stowey, North Petherton and Highbridge library catchments cover much smaller areas..
  • Commercial bus service 21 provides relatively good public transport along the A38 linking much of the area’s population to the two major towns. Other less frequent services link Cannington to Bridgwater. Communities to the east of Bridgwater are served by Somerset County Council subsidised bus services, also running into Bridgwater. The rural area to the north and east of Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge also has public transport centred around the main town of Burnham-on-Sea. Community transport is available across the area, but is more limited in the west around Nether Stowey.
  • Road transport links are good across much of the area, and the majority of people in the area live within a 10 to 15 minute drive to either Bridgwater or Burnham-on-Sea. The area around Nether Stowey is around a 20 minute drive to Bridgwater. Congestion at some times of the day can increase journey time in Bridgwater, and parking charges may be difficult to afford for some people. Most residents who live in the urban area of Bridgwater are within walking or cycling distance from the town centre, alternatively there are some town bus services.
  • The proportion of older people and disabled people living in and around Burnham-on-Sea is notably higher than the proportion for Somerset as a whole.
  • Levels of deprivation are relatively high in some parts of Highbridge and Bridgwater.  One neighbourhood in Highbridge and two neighbourhoods in Bridgwater are in the 10% most deprived nationally. Across the area as a whole, levels of deprivation are slightly lower than the Somerset average. There is evidence of some deprivation in the rural areas around Stogursey and East Huntspill.
  • Employment, income and educational attainment levels are all slightly lower than the average for Somerset across the area as a whole, there are also pockets of significant income and employment deprivation in parts of Bridgwater and Highbridge. School readiness levels are significantly lower in some parts of Bridgwater.
  • Social isolation and digital exclusion rates vary across the area, and tend to align with areas of deprivation, with digital exclusion also being very high in Burnham-on-Sea and part of North Petherton. As with other parts of Somerset, there has been considerable investment in improving rural broadband infrastructure. However, there are a number of rural areas where digital exclusion is higher than the Somerset average.
MetricBridgwater LibraryBurnham-on-Sea LibraryHighbridge LibraryNether Stowey LibraryNorth Petherton Library
Catchment population78,98037,0786,7864,7178,264
Opening Hours per week41349.52021
Active borrowers*6,1433,270288410452
Annual footfall127,08367,7453,7868,3496,495

*For definition of an active borrower, please see frequently asked questions

Further Detailed Information
Further evidence of need (including deprivation and usage), access to alternative libraries and value for money, which we have used to develop our proposals can be found here. The detailed impact assessments can also be found here. We are seeking your views on all of this information, and would encourage you to look at this further detail.

Proposals

The following options demonstrate the aim to keep as many library buildings as possible open. The options highlight, however, that for a number of libraries we may require community support to help us achieve this. We stress that library services will continue across Somerset, whatever the outcome of this consultation.

If we are unable to keep library buildings open in communities, we will deliver library services in other ways, such as through outreach (such as in alternative venues within communities), online or mobile library services.

Please now consider the following option proposals and complete the questionnaire, basing your answers on the library you visit most often.

Bridgwater LibraryProposals
Option ALibrary services broadly comparable to the existing service will continue to be provided at Bridgwater Library. We will continue to explore the potential to share space with other organisations and/or partners, in order to save money, and this could result in a reduction in space available for library services.

We propose to provide additional Library Outreach Services (events and activities for children, and technology activities for adults) in the Sydenham and Hamp areas of Bridgwater, where these are needed most. We will work with other partners, including our Family Support service, to do this.
Burnham-on-Sea LibraryProposals
Option ALibrary services broadly comparable to the existing service will continue to be provided at Burnham-on-Sea Library. We will continue to explore the potential to share space with other organisations and/or partners, in order to save money, and this could result in a reduction in space available for library services.
Highbridge LibraryProposals
Option AProvide library services through a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Highbridge.
Option B Provide library services by delivering Library Outreach Services (events and activities for children and technology activities for adults). We will work with our Family Support service, and other partners, to do this. This would mean the closure of the current library building
Nether Stowey LibraryProposals
Option AProvide library services through a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in Nether Stowey (supported by some funding from the County Council).
Option B Provide library services through an additional mobile library stop in Nether Stowey (at least once a month). This would mean the closure of the current library building.
North Petherton LibraryProposals
Option AProvide library services through a partnership with the local community to maintain a library building in North Petherton.
Option B Provide library services through an additional mobile library stop in North Petherton (at least once a month). This would mean the closure of the current library building.

You can download the proposals for all of the areas here.

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