DEVON County Council’s Cabinet has today, Wednesday, July 12, approved recommendations to earmark £25,000 to help ensure that vulnerable users can continue to access library services after the mobile service is decommissioned.
The cabinet members approved proposals to stop delivering a mobile library service because it has become very expensive to run and the number of people using it has fallen considerably during the last few years.
Currently it has four mobile libraries, which costs £217,000 a year to operate.
Three of the mobile libraries are 15 years- old and described as “at the end of their serviceable lives”.
The fourth is nine years-old.
The county council says they are expensive to maintain and unreliable.
To replace all four with new vehicles would cost between £0.5m and £0.8m – and this is not something we can afford to do.
A consultation of the proposals was held in March and drew 1,197 responses.
Of those responses just under 200 were from users who said that they were unable to access a static library because of a health condition or disability.
Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Communities and Equality, said: “I have never known a financial situation as difficult as it is now. We are spending more than ever before on services to support vulnerable children and adults.
"Demand for these services is spiralling as costs continue to rise. This is happening at a time when we have to save millions from our budget, and we have to look for savings.
“We are one of the only authorities in the southwest that has not closed a static library and we have no plans to do so.
“However, I recognise that for those who have a disability or health condition and are unable to access a static library, decommissioning the mobile service would have a disproportionate impact.
“We will instead look to extend our existing library services – our Home Library Service, our Good Neighbours service membership and our digital service – to make sure that people still receive a library service at home
“And we aim to provide £25K transition support to help our vulnerable users to continue to access alternative library provision.
“Over the coming weeks we will be looking closely at how this money can be best used.”