WATCHET Town Council was celebrating this week after the papers were signed meaning the town’s library was officially saved.

Oliver Woodhams of Somerset County Council’s Library Services visited on Tuesday, March 5 to officially establish a community supported library partnership.

The deal means Watchet Library has been saved from what otherwise would have meant closure as a result of SCC’s 2018 strategic review of library services in Somerset.

The joint signing took place at the library between Sarah Reed, WTC clerk and Mr Woodhams, with the WTC working group councillors and library staff present.

WTC and SCC will be jointly financing the operating costs for the library, which from April 1 will be open for the following slightly revised hours, and operated by SCC employed staff.

There will be slightly revised hours, so the library will now be open Monday between 2pm and 4.30pm, Tuesday between 10.30am and 1pm, Thursday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm, Friday 2pm to 4.30pm and Saturday 10.30am to 1pm.

Watchet Library building was originally gifted to the people of Watchet by Leonard Laity Stoate in 1951, to be held in trust by Watchet Urban District Council.

The freehold was taken on by West Somerset Council during the local government re-organisation of 1974 who have now agreed to transfer the freehold and trusteeship back to Watchet to be held by Watchet Town Council, as a condition of establishing the Community Library Partnership.

Under the partnership WTC will take responsibility for the building and its maintenance.

In ‘out of library hours’ the town council will be exploring other community uses for the building, with the potential in the future to consider extended library opening hours through additional paid staffing and/or volunteers.

Cllr John Irven, chairman of WTC, said: “The agreement runs for at least seven years. The town council are really looking forward to a bright future for our much loved library.”

Cllr David Hall, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries at Somerset County Council said: “I’d like to thank Watchet Town Council for their hard work and commitment to supporting continued staffed library services in Watchet.”