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Mobile library service faces cuts as county looks to save £95,000

By Tamworth Herald  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

By Tracy Robbins

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RURAL communities in North Warwickshire are facing cuts to their mobile library service as county bosses look to save nearly £100,000.

The mobile library service, which currently consists of five vehicles, makes over 450 stops around Warwickshire, serving around 3,650 registered customers.

But at a recent WCC Cabinet meeting councillors agreed that the service needs to make its contribution towards the £2m cuts facing library services across the county.

Councillor Colin Hayfield, portfolio holder for customers, access and physical assets, said: "We have to get the most out of the vehicles, the expertise of the drivers and the bookstock. At the moment there are a lot of stops where there are only one or two users and we are not getting the most out of the resource.

"It is not just about reducing the number of stops but also about changing how the vehicles work.

"We listened to the recommendations made by Overview and Scrutiny and will explore different options including the viability of weekend and evening stops that would broaden the customer base to include people at work.

"Obviously, it is going to be very hard to make the savings required without making significant changes," Cllr Hayfield added.

The current lease for the service's five vehicles expires in October 2013 and, at this point, the mobile library service will look to continue its operation with a reduced fleet of three vehicles.

Stops will also be reviewed to ensure that the remaining vehicles can provide a comprehensive service.

The mobile library service's existing fleet of five vehicles travels around the county making stops of an average of 20 minutes duration to allow local people to board and select up to 10 books from a wide selection of regularly refreshed books and audio books.

As well as local points most convenient to residents, there are also stops at sheltered homes and children's centres.

In some cases where stops with low usage have to be ended some residents may qualify for the housebound delivery service.

The county council is set to engage with the public and local members and examine how a reduced fleet could continue to operate.

In order to reduce costs and work with fewer vehicles, the service is looking at various options such as relocating stops, calling at fewer stops or even less frequent stops – the council is also looking at opportunities to increase partnership work to more efficiently reach customers.

Cllr Hayfield said: "We can assure residents that we will be working extremely hard to limit the adverse effects of making this level of savings."

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