September 26th, 2016

Mobile library service faces the chop

Updated: 10:03 am, May 07, 2015

THE MOBILE library service across much of Redditch is to be axed in a bid to save hundreds of thousands of pounds.

More than 70 per cent of the 30 plus collection points across the borough and the surrounding villages are in line to be removed while others will have stopping times cut. Changes are also proposed to the Library Service at Home.

Worcestershire County Council is consulting on the move which will save £100,000 a year as the authority battles to make savings between £20million and £25million a year over the next four years.

The proposal will also see the service visit every four weeks instead of three and the number of vehicles slashed from three to one.

A total of 993 people use the mobile library service ever year across Worcestershire. But council chiefs say over the last ten years visits have dropped by 40 per cent, loans are down 35 per cent and the cost to the authority is now £3.11 per visit compared to £1.97 for every visit to an actual library branch.

The plan sees every stop within three miles of a main library branch removed meaning the service will no longer visit Batchley, Webheath, Headless Cross, Crabbs Cross, Matchborough, Winyates Green, Church Hill, Riverside, Southcrest and Lakeside.

The surrounding areas of Hopwood, Alvechurch, Rowney Green and Ham Green are also on the cut list.

The service will still visit Cookhill, New End, Astwood Bank and Feckenham but with reduced stopping times while the number of stops in Inkberrow will be reduced from six to three.

The move has triggered concerns some of the borough’s elderly and vulnerable residents will be left without access to a library, particularly given poor public transport links in parts of the town.

Coun Carole Gandy, who represents Headless Cross and Oakenshaw, said: “For parts of the town where there is a significant older population this is a big issue. People nowadays seem to think everybody reads ebooks and the such like and of course that’s not the case.

“It’s worrying if they are going to start to centralise everything around the town centre particularly when the bus service is not the best.”

Council chiefs say an equality impact assessment will be carried out to identify anyone disadvantaged by the proposals.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, responsible for localism and communities on the council, said: “Through this consultation everyone has the opportunity to tell us what they think and we will be able to ensure all customers can continue to access library services and receive a service that is appropriate to them.”

The consultation runs until October 31. Questionnaires can be completed online at www.worcesterhire.gov.uk/librariesandlearning, while paper copies are available from the mobile library and library branches.

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