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Brighton and Hove mobile library saved
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.
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.
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