Mid Devon mobile library service cuts proposals

MOBILE library users who live in remote parts of Mid Devon could see their service slashed under plans to cut costs by half.

Stops in Tiverton, Culmstock, Uffculme Markers and Willand are among 69 under threat of the axe.

A bookshop owner in Tiverton said he hopes the council will run a trial period before the service is stopped to see if more people back it.

Jeremy Whitehorn, of Heartland Old Books, said: “We want to see people reading as much as possible. My own view is the library service is very important to those who continue to get it.

“Before cutting it, they should have a trial to tell people it is going to be cut and see if more people use it.

“It would be a test of the wider public feeling because if we knew the service was going to be cut, then people could form an action group and you would see whether there is the will for it to happen.”

An estimated 5,100 people across Devon use the council's fortnightly mobile library service, with eight mobile libraries making 522 stops around the county for between 20 minutes and three hours.

But visitor figures show that 69 stops are significantly under-used, with just three or fewer people using them.

The change would reduce the council’s spending by £200,000 a year, as it faces £110million cuts over the next four years.

Cutting the stops would affect 160 mobile library users – the remaining 4,900 users could see stops reduced from fortnightly to monthly, although borrowing times would be changed to reflect a new timetable.

The council’s home delivery service to the disabled or people who can no longer physically access library services would not be affected.

A consultation period is ongoing and the council hopes to make a decision in December with a view to introducing any changes next spring.

Roger Croad, the council’s cabinet member responsible for the service, said: “The mobile library service costs nearly twice per customer, compared to the average cost per customer to our static libraries.

“When we undertook a major review of the mobile library service three years ago, we introduced criteria to ensure the stops were well used and our proposal is to remove these significantly underused stops from our routes but maintain the service to the majority of people.”

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