Cuts to mobile library service

MOBILE libraries in Suffolk could be cut in a bid to save £240,000.

Plans have been drawn up to axe three of Suffolk County Council’s six vehicles by reducing the frequency of visits and removing stops where there is already a library.

Councillors at this week’s cabinet meeting agreed to launch a public consultation on the move and signed off the next phase of the restructuring of libraries across the county.

The authority runs six mobile libraries - with an additional one kept as a spare - which make 630 stops at 361 communities.

They call at each stop once a fortnight.

However, under proposals to reduce the service, stops would be removed in places where there is a library and a monthly schedule adopted subject to travel times. This would cut the fleet to three vehicles.

Another option that could be considered is a review of stops used by small numbers of people as well as removing and consolidating multiple stops in a village.

Some community organisations, which have shown interest in running a library, have voiced ideas to provide a community outreach service where volunteers take materials to rural and isolated locations such as village halls on a regular schedule.

A consultation on the plans will now be carried out.

The cabinet is expected to receive the results of the consultation in November when it will also consider a report into the new structural options for libraries in Suffolk.

One of three models will be implemented including an in-house business unit similar to the Schools Library Service, an external but wholly council-owned company or an independent company managed by the county through contractual arrangements.

The authority will work on several partnership pilots to help town or parish councils as well as community and staff groups run a library.