WATCHET Town Council (WTC) is calling on West Somerset Council to help facilitate its takeover of the town library as soon as possible.

WTC is entering into a Community Library Partnership (CLP) with Somerset County Council (SCC) after SCC announced it was reducing funding for libraries across the county and many were at risk of closure unless volunteers could step in.

In Watchet, the library building is owned by West Somerset Council (WSC), but there has been a dispute over the freehold transfer of the library to the Town Council.

Speaking at SCC's scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (December 11), Watchet mayor Cllr John Irven said: "WSC has refused the freehold transfer of the library and appear only to be allowing SCC to offer a full-repairing sub-lease, details of which have not been proposed.

"WTC have reiterated that we require a freehold transfer, and that if this is not forthcoming WSC will be causing the closure of Watchet Library.

"The building was gifted to Watchet Urban District Council to be held for the people of Watchet and leased to SCC for £1 pa for provision of library services.

"In 1974’s reorganisation, the asset moved to WSC.

"As long as it continues as a library under the current lease, the building has only nominal capital value and we do not accept WSC explanations as to why they will not respect the clear intention of the original benefaction by transferring this back to WTC."

However West Somerset Council say there is no reason for the library to close.

A spokesperson for WSC said: “As the owner of the library building in Watchet, WSC has been reviewing ways to facilitate the continued provision of this valued service.

"SCC, with full support from WSC, has provided options to the Town Council that would enable the library in Watchet to remain open into the longer term, through a CLP.

"A response from the Town Council is awaited.”