Pensioner hits out at decision to end mobile library services across Hampshire

A PENSIONER at the sharp end of cuts to library services has hit out at the decision to end mobile library buses.
Mobile library services have been cut across HampshireMobile library services have been cut across Hampshire
Mobile library services have been cut across Hampshire

Jean Bradley, 87, has been using the mobile library in Finchdean for many years.

But from June it will no longer stop in the village as part of a strategy to save £1.7m from the county’s library budget which was agreed yesterday.

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Councillor Andrew Gibson, who heads libraries across Fareham, Gosport, Havant, East Hampshire and Winchester districts, agreed to end all mobile library services, saving £360,000.

Other villages affected include Denmead, Wickham, Clanfield, Rowlands Castle, Warsash and Southwick.

Mrs Bradley said: ‘It’s awful.

‘We haven’t really got a lot happening here, apart from the pub. It was just a God-send.

‘I don’t drive. I have good friends who take me out and I use taxis, but you don’t get a taxi to go to the library.

‘It was just a lovely service and the chap is so lovely.’

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The council has vowed to work with local communities in the 20 busiest mobile library stops to identify opportunities for volunteers to deliver books to community gatherings.

Free online library learning services will be offered, as well as developing links to provide community transport to help rural communities access local libraries.

The review follows an 11-week consultation, which saw 9,500 responses.

Cutting staff has already saved £300,000, while ending spending on CDs and DVDs will save a further £150,000.

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The changes will mean self-service stations are installed in all 53 libraries.

A report says the ‘public were not in favour’ of reducing the book fund by £500,000 from 2020, as well as transferring smaller libraries, such as Horndean and Lee-on-the-Solent, into community management.

But the report says ‘they may need to be explored’, although transferring libraries would only come after another round of consultation. Fareham library is set to be refurbished as part of the strategy. Feasibility work will be carried out to move Havant and Emsworth libraries to new locations.

And there is a bid to develop ‘open libraries’, which open for longer with less staff manning the counters. 
A report said the council was facing the ‘most challenging period of prolonged national austerity measures’.