A mobile library is to be scrapped and replaced with a door-to-door service despite a long-running campaigning to save it.

Politicians have been debating the future of the Brighton and Hove City Council-owned community facility for more than a year.

The Green-administration claims the current vehicle is outdated and has proposed to replace it to make savings as it looks to battle Government cuts.

But campaigners and opposition councillors maintained the money can be found to keep the £84,000-a-year service running three days a week.

The mobile library was given a stay of execution by councillors last year.

It will now be replaced with a personalised door-to-door “books-on-wheels” delivery service.

Council leader Jason Kitcat, who used his casting vote to force through the decision at the policy and resources committee meeting, said: “More people will have better service for less spend in the idea we’re proposing.”

Changed decision

But Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn was concerned a decision taken by the council’s economic development and culture committee in September was being “over ridden”.

He said: “This must be a first in the history of the council.

“A committee makes a decision and because the administration disagrees it then changes the decision at another committee.”

In response Coun Kitcat said: “Most committees have a budget envelope and if every committee is able to vary budget spend we would get into a pretty dicey situation very quickly.”

800 users

The mobile library service is currently used by more than 800 individuals.

More than 1,500 people signed a petition to save the community facility when funding was proposed to scrap it in December 2011.

Opposition councillors thought they had saved the service at February’s budget meeting when they found money to keep it running for six months. About £120,000 was also allocated to buy a new library.

Yet, after no voluntary groups came forward to help with running costs, the council proposed to replace it with a personalised door-to-door “books-on-wheels” delivery service.

Books on wheels

But a further stay of execution for the mobile was granted by opposition councillors in September.

The latest plan of a “books on wheels” door-to-door service will cost £37,000 a year.

Council chiefs said it was currently successfully operating in areas in Patcham and, city-wide, it would mean nearly 500 housebound people could have access to borrowing books.

Labour councillor Warren Morgan said: “Labour councillors have tried at every stage to save this valued service which is a lifeline to many older people who value being able to borrow a book on their doorstep from staff they look forward to seeing each week.”

Talking point: How important is the mobile library to you and your family? Share your views by commenting below or email The Argus letters pages at letters@theargus.co.uk.

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