UP to £5,000 has been made available to help the takeover of Highbridge Library – but Burnham’s library has had its opening hours slashed.

Somerset County Council has set up a £30,000 pot for communities interested in running under-threat libraries.

Groups can apply for grants of up to £5,000 to help them run the libraries which will no longer be funded by the county council.

The Weekly News has reported how Burnham and Highbridge Town Council struck a deal to take over Highbridge Library and has set aside £16,000 to cover start-up costs.

Town councillor Chris Williams, who has led the campaign to save the facility, said: “This announcement has not yet got down to us but as soon it does we will certainly be interested.

“We have some money in the budget but it isn’t an unlimited amount so any additional sources of funding would be very useful.”

However, libraries which have not been earmarked for closure, including Burnham’s, face reduced opening times from October 1.

Under the changes, the Princess Street facility will open for seven-and-a-half fewer hours each week, including half a day instead of a full day on Mondays, and will have shorter opening hours every day other than Saturday.

The county council says the times when the library will no longer be open are the times it is least used currently.

Self-service facilities are also due to be installed at Burnham Library next year.

Councillor Christine Lawrence, cabinet member for community services, said: “The decision to reduce budgets for libraries has been very tough but is necessary because of the council’s financial position.”