A BID to save a ‘much loved’ community book shop from closing has been launched.

Harbour Community Bookshop, which is open from March to October, in Watchet faces closure due to the building being in a state of disrepair.

West Somerset Council had not renewed the lease on the building, on the Esplanade, in order to carry out repairs. It would then either lease or dispose of the building.

The shop is a volunteer-run second-hand bookstore, which shares its proceeds between the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and other community groups and activities in the town.

In a bid to secure the future of the store, Watchet Coastal Community Team has spawned an idea which would see the public carry out the refurbishment work.

Jeff Bird, trustee of the Watchet Harbour Community Bookshop said:

“We are extremely pleased to support this initiative aimed at safeguarding future community use of the building.

“Our bookshop, which has 40 volunteers, has raised £120,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and almost £70,000 for local good causes since 2009 and is a vital part of the community in Watchet that we all want to continue.”

The group has applied for funding in the Place Based Social Action programme, which is allocated by the Big Lottery and central government.

If awarded, the funding would cover a range of community action in Watchet, including community transport and young people support schemes. The refurbishment would be just one element of the programme, with funds paying for materials, equipment, surveys and professional training support for the volunteer effort.

Meetings between the CCT and WSC are said to be progressing ‘well’, with a five-year lease for the building ‘agreed in principle’.

CCT director, John Irven, who is also Watchet Town Mayor, said: “We are delighted a new model of collaborative working between the three levels of local authority councils and our local community can be explored in this project.

“While there are no promises that we will secure this funding, the concept of using our excellent community energy to save something valuable for our town and for our District Council to both help enable this and be supportive of it is a fantastic step forward.

“We hope that this model of mutual support continues as a solution to funding challenges and enables us to have a promising future.

“I would particularly like to thank West Somerset Council for their help, support and constructive approach in embracing our innovative proposal to solve this issue”

The agreed lease would allow for the funding for the refurbishment to come through, as well as securing its future once the building work is complete.

Cllr Martin Dewdney, portfolio holder for resources and central support at WSC, said: “Enabling and supporting community action is something that West Somerset Council is very keen to support.

“We hope that this project will mark a bright future of collaboration between the wonderfully engaged community in Watchet, and our soon to be formed new Council.

“We are pleased to be able to provide match funding towards this project of £5,000 and look forward to seeing this project progress, we wish WCCT the best of luck in securing the funding from PBSA.”

The funding decision by the Place Based Social Action programme will be made in January 2019, and if successful community refurbishment would begin then.

To get involved contact Georgie Grant at georgie@onioncollective.co.uk.