THE NUMBER of mobile libraries in West Sussex are to be cut from three to two vehicles from Monday (June 6). It follows a year-long review of the mobile service, which was ordered to cut costs by £65,000 as part of an overall £1m saving for the library service. A further £1m saving must be made by March 2014.
The findings come after a consultation involving more than 1,000 customers, and extensive talks with district, borough and parish councils, plus a community consultation workshop facilitated by Action in Rural Sussex . A survey showed that more than 30 per cent of people also used a static library. Many actually drive to the mobile stop.
The decision to reduce the county mobile library service has been taken by Deborah Urquhart, County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Economy, who oversees Libraries.
She said: “That survey showed the mobile service was convenient but not vital for a large number of people. We have held meetings with communities, parish and town councils, and taken advice from our staff who operate these mobile routes. They have helped us to identify the less well used stops, but also ensure that particularly vulnerable customers are not missed out. We have already planned alternative services for those individuals who have been brought to our attention.”
She added: “In some cases we have amalgamated several nearby stops into a smaller number. In some instances visits will be fortnightly instead of weekly, or monthly instead of every two weeks.
“This has not been an easy process, but I am sure we now have a fair schedule of stops which maintains the service to those in need and achieves the required financial savings. I am pleased that we haven’t had to withdraw a stop from a community other than where it simply was no longer viable. In the case of three communities currently not being served we have actually been able to start services – in Bignor, Burpham and Bury.”
The mobiles are currently off the road for a week to enable stock to be moved. Details about the new schedules are now available on our website and printed copies will be available in libraries as well as on the mobile libraries themselves after June 6.