The ArgusBrighton and Hove mobile library saved (From The Argus)

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Brighton and Hove mobile library saved

The Argus: The official launch of the mobile library in 2004 The official launch of the mobile library in 2004

After strong opposition and lengthy debate Brighton and Hove mobile library service has been spared the axe – for the moment.

Brighton and Hove City Council proposed to replace the vehicle with a door-to-door "books on wheels" delivery service.

The local authority's administration claimed it had exhausted all options to find about £75,000 a year to keep the service running for another decade.

However, opposition councillors disputed this and asked for the vehicle, which is used by more than 800 people, to remain until March instead of being scrapped in December.

After a lengthy debate, four Conservative and two Labour councillors were joined by four members of the Green administration in unanimously passing the amendment, which asks experts to use the time and look for extra money, specifically from within the council.

Library activist Harry Spillman, who collected more than 1,500 signatures against the closure, said the council was "taking the axe to a popular and much-loved service".

The local authority had proposed £25,000 a year for the home delivery service, which would have included home tuition in the internet and social media.

Voluntary service

It would have required the assistance of volunteers.

The proposal would have freed-up the £120,000 allocated to buy a new vehicle put forward at February's budget meeting.

Green councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic and culture committee, said: "Unless we have the funding we cannot have a new library parked up somewhere like an unused aircraft carrier."

He added the local authority had "bucked the national trend" and kept all its static libraries across the city open despite Government cuts.

But Labour councillor Brian Fitch said: "We want to give it a stay of execution.

"I do not think the Greens have ever taken the exercise [of finding funding] seriously.

"If the Greens would have wanted this to happen it would have happened."

Conservative councillor David Smith said: "In the four years we were in administration we expanded all our libraries. By closing one we are going the wrong way."

Sally McMahon, the council's head of libraries, said: "It's about looking at priorities. Is it more important to maintain a mobile library for many people who are already using static libraries or helping those that cannot get to their local library?"

It means there will be a £17,000 shortfall for this year.

However, the local authority finance experts believe this is "manageable".

A decision on its future beyond March will be taken at the council's budget meeting in February.

Comments (4)

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11:34am Fri 21 Sep 12

Lady Smith says...

Stupid decision. It'll have a detirmental impact on the rest of the service which is used by far more people. And it'll only have to go in next year's budget, so it's a stay of execution.
Stupid decision. It'll have a detirmental impact on the rest of the service which is used by far more people. And it'll only have to go in next year's budget, so it's a stay of execution. Lady Smith
  • Score: 0

2:10pm Fri 21 Sep 12

HJarrs says...

Selfishly I am pleased that there is a stay of execution as I regularly use this service. However, if more people do not use the service it will be lost. 800 people using the mobile library is simply not enough. So get using it!

Considering the incompitent Tory plan to put benefits on-line, there is likely to be a big need for a supported mobile internet service as many thousands in B&H do not have access and have never used it. It would seem sensible to fund a mobile library with a couple of computers giving supported internet access. I shall be writing to my councillors forthwith and I hope some of you will do the same.
Selfishly I am pleased that there is a stay of execution as I regularly use this service. However, if more people do not use the service it will be lost. 800 people using the mobile library is simply not enough. So get using it! Considering the incompitent Tory plan to put benefits on-line, there is likely to be a big need for a supported mobile internet service as many thousands in B&H do not have access and have never used it. It would seem sensible to fund a mobile library with a couple of computers giving supported internet access. I shall be writing to my councillors forthwith and I hope some of you will do the same. HJarrs
  • Score: 0

10:43pm Fri 21 Sep 12

Lady Smith says...

800 people use it. 1,500 were against its closure. Tells its own story, really.
800 people use it. 1,500 were against its closure. Tells its own story, really. Lady Smith
  • Score: 0

11:00am Tue 16 Oct 12

Indigo-Bunting says...

yes, stupid decision. Is already having a detrimental effect!
yes, stupid decision. Is already having a detrimental effect! Indigo-Bunting
  • Score: 0

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