Mobile libraries could be slashed in Hampshire

Letter of the day

Mobile library services in Hampshire are set to be drastically reduced.

The county council has announced plans to reduce the service and axe the number of visits made by the 'buses' to communities.

It believes the cuts, which will see 18 full-time staff laid off, are necessary to save 600,000 per year.

But users have said they will campaign against the proposals, which are under consultation until February.

Widow Mary Burgess, of Wickham, uses the service because she is part of a reading group.

She said: 'It's very good at the moment. They get books in for us if we ask. Lots of people use it, and it will be missed.

'It's a meeting point for many people.

'Some people could drive to their nearest library, but others can't travel and they rely on it.

'It's good they aren't stopping it completely, but this is a big cut.

'Once a month stops will mean there are fewer books available.

'We will definitely contact the council to say we don't want them to do this.'

Under the new proposals, no village or town within two miles of a main library will be visited at all.

And many places which are currently visited once a fortnight will be visited once every four weeks.

This will mean the total number of visits to towns and villages will drop from 1,200 per fortnight, to 345 per month.

However, the council has pledged to ensure stops will be longer, and that every rural community will continue to be visited.

Council libraries boss, Cllr Margaret Snaith-Tempia said: 'Our mobile library service has been in operation for over 40 years and has never been comprehensively reviewed, leaving it neither efficient or sustainable.

'The new structure was devised through consultation with current users and councils, but to make sure we have incorporated everything we are asking for further comments.'

The council reported late last year that it would review the service, which it says has seen a decline in visits of more than 23 per cent in the last five years.

To comment on the proposed changes to the mobile library service email: library.customercomments@hants.gov.uk before Monday February 14.