Council considers slashing library services


Council chiefs are considering cuts to Derbyshire’s library services in a bid to save cash.

Residents will be asked for their views on changes to Derbyshire County Council’s mobile library service to help the authority deal with budget cuts if Cabinet approves the proposals at a meeting next week.

The authority has to save £157 million over the next five years and is looking at making changes to services across the council.

Its mobile fleet currently consists of two large maximum capacity vehicles (MCVs) and eight smaller standard mobile libraries. They make almost 1,300 individual stops accounting for 17 per cent of total library issues and seven per cent of all library visits.

It costs the council £720,000 to run its mobile library service which currently employs 26 people – equivalent to 18 full time staff.

Four potential options to make savings are to be considered by the county council’s Cabinet next week (Tuesday 3 December). If approved for consultation residents will be given the chance to have their say in a two-stage process. The options currently being considered are:

Option 1: Withdraw all ten mobile library vehicles to create a saving of £720,000 by 2016.

Option 2: Withdraw eight standard mobiles and maintain the two MCVs to create a saving of £530,000 by 2016.

Option 3: Withdraw one MCV and seven standard mobiles and maintain one MCV and one standard mobile to create a saving of £560,000 by 2016.

Option 4: Community offer – as changes would mean many individual stops would no longer be provided the council would consider supporting community groups or organisations wishing to provide a more local service. This could include, for example, working with communities to develop a network of drop-off points in accessible premises and other locations such as children’s centres.

The first stage of consultation would ask for initial views on these options and any proposals for community offers and a second stage would involve more detailed consultation in relation to any preferred option or options.

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We are facing extraordinary and unprecedented budget pressures with cuts of £157m over the next five years so it is inevitable that many of our services, including libraries, with be subject to review.

“Sadly we have no alternative but to review services – these are savings the council has to make and if we don’t face these challenges now we will be storing up significant problems for the future.

“If these proposals for changes to our mobile library service are approved by Cabinet next week we’ll be holding a lengthy public consultation to listen to what local residents have to say before developing any detailed plans.”

The council’s mobile library service is used by older people, families, schools, playgroups, nurseries, young people and housebound customers.

MCVs are used to serve larger communities without a branch library, usually for a half or full day each week and standard vehicles provide shorter visits on a fortnightly basis mainly serving smaller, rural, more inaccessible and some suburban communities. Mobile library stops are generally not provided closer than one mile from a branch library.

If proposals are approved by Cabinet, the public consultation would start in January and run in two stages until June. It is expected final proposals would be presented to Cabinet for consideration in September 2014.