Parents upset as Portsmouth library bus faces last stop

(l-r) Abbie Bicker, Lillie Blades, Hope Bicker and Amen Birhane.''Pupils from Flying Bull Nursery school onboard a mobile library bus service operated by Portsmouth City Council. The service could stop under  budget cuts.  'Picture: Allan Hutchings (13768-233)
(l-r) Abbie Bicker, Lillie Blades, Hope Bicker and Amen Birhane.''Pupils from Flying Bull Nursery school onboard a mobile library bus service operated by Portsmouth City Council. The service could stop under budget cuts. 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (13768-233)
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PARENTS and nursery staff are fighting to save the Portsmouth library bus service as its future looks to be in doubt.

The roving library is a Portsmouth City Council service which visits schools, nurseries and supermarkets across the city.

But amid concerns about the safety of the ageing bus and the cost of replacing it, the council is having a consultation over its future.

Rosy Bremer, 41, from Frogmore Road, Milton, has a two-year-old daughter, Sakina, who loves visiting the bus.

She said: ‘We found out the bus could be closing back in December and I am sad but angry at the proposal.

‘The bus is an invaluable service which reaches people who otherwise wouldn’t necessarily go to libraries.

‘It would be such a loss to the city.

‘They are saying that the maintenance costs are becoming increasingly hard to bear.

‘But it is such a great service and my daughter loves the novelty of climbing onto the bus.

‘She gets so excited when I tell her we are visiting the library bus.

‘In general, the city libraries have borne more than their fair share of cuts.’

The council is currently deciding whether to purchase a new bus or discontinue the service.

Lindy Elliott, Library Services manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘To replace the bus would cost between £40,000 and £80,000 depending on the age and specification of the vehicle selected.

‘We would also be required to find additional £5,000 to £7,000 annual service and maintenance costs.

‘To meet these costs would require savings to be made elsewhere in the Library Services budget.’

Staff at the nurseries who often use the bus see it as a vital service.

Rose Wiggins, Foundation Stage Manager at Flying Bull Primary School, said: ‘We don’t have an alternative if it was to be stopped. Even the nearest library is too far away to take the little ones and they don’t get the same experience in our own school library.’

The council said that any changes to the library bus service were at the proposal stage and a staff consultation is currently taking place.

Groups who use it have been notified.