‘Extreme concern’ over mobile library consultation

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Villagers have voiced “extreme concern” over plans to shake-up Derbyshire’s mobile library service.

The £720,000 facility – which accounts for 17 per cent of all library issues – is under threat as part of Derbyshire County Council’s (DCC) bid to save £157million in five years.

The authority – whose mobile library fleet consists of two large vehicles and eight smaller vehicles – is currently consulting on proposals to reduce the service.

If the plans go-ahead, just two vehicles would operate on a monthly timetable.

Members of the public in Ashover told councillors at a meeting last month that running a reduced service would be “unfair”.

They also claimed there was a lack of public awareness about the consultation.

A spokesman for Ashover Parish Council said: “The proposal would be for a one-hour visit once a month to the village only. The public considers this to be unfair on elderly and disabled people living outside the village.”

The spokesman added: “Parish councils have not been informed about the consultation, even though it is now in its second stage. Members of the public have expressed extreme concern at the lack of public awareness about the consultation.”

A DCC spokesman said: “Information about the proposed changes has been widely publicised and we have asked the Derbyshire Association of Local Councils, which represents more than 190 parish and town authorities in the county, to inform all of their members about the consultation. All options remain open and we welcome as many views from residents as possible during the second stage of our consultation.” Have your say on the consultation at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/mobilelibraries by August 11.

The mobile library service – which employs 26 people – is used by older people, schools, nurseries and housebound customers. The council is having to make a number of tough cost-cutting decisions as a result of Government austerity. The DCC spokesman said: “Sadly we have no alternative but to review services. The council is facing extraordinary and unprecedented budget pressures so it’s inevitable that many of our services will be subject to change.”