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Crime writer makes plea to keep Brighton and Hove mobile library
5:10pm Monday 18th February 2013 in News
A best-selling crime author has pleaded with town hall bosses to save a mobile library – as a new plan emerged to keep the community facility from the scrapheap.
Politicians have been debating the future of the Brighton and Hove City Council-owned library for 14 months.
The Green-administration claims the current vehicle is outdated and has proposed to replace it with a home delivery service as it looks to make savings.
But, as opposition councillors prepare to table another bid to keep it on the road, Sussex-based crime author Peter James has called on town hall bosses to find the five-figure sum a year to keep it running three days a week.
Mr James, who lives just outside Brighton, said: “If it had not been for the libraries, when I was a child growing up in Brighton, I don’t think I would ever have become a writer, for it was in those that I discovered my love of books.
“I know resources are stretched, but the cost of this service is very small in the overall scheme of things, and what it brings to the community is something quite priceless.”
In response, Coun Bowden said: “We live in extremely difficult financial circumstances.”
The plan to scrap the service, which is used by more than 800 individuals, was revealed in December 2011.
More than 1,500 people signed a petition to save it and opposition councillors thought they had succeeded in saving it when they found money in February 2012 to keep it running for six months.
About £120,000 was also allocated to buy a new vehicle.
Yet, after no voluntary groups came forward to help with running costs, the council proposed to replace it with a personalised door-to-door delivery service.
This was rubber-stamped by the council’s policy and resources committee last month, which overturned the vote of its culture committee.
In a renewed plea to councillors this week, library campaigner Harry Spillman claimed the council’s reasoning was “specious”.
He added: “The mobile library is at the cutting edge of localism.”
Labour and Co-op councillors have revealed they will present an amendment at the crunch budget meeting of all councillors on February 28 to keep it in service.
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