Mobile libraries latest to be hit by cuts

MOBILE libraries are the latest service to bear the brunt of county hall cuts with re-written routes and longer gaps between visits.

Currently a network of 14 mobile libraries provide a lifeline service to people of all ages in rural communities who value the doorstep service.

Now the service is set to shoulder its share of the cutback burden with many villages seeing four weekly visits become three and two weekly ones trimmed back to four.

Meanwhile Gorleston is losing its mobile van altogether, although officials say people will not see a break in service with the route being picked up by other bases in Norwich and North Walsham.

The changes are set to save the council �94,000 a year as it struggles to plug a �155m over the next three.

Maureen Cornell, mobile library manager, said no customers would suffer as a result of the changes and that in fact many had applauded them saying the longer wait between visits suited them better.

She said the changes could be seen as part of broader measures to save the council money, tagging them as “efficiencies” rather than cuts aimed at making the service more effective.

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“The service is very well supported and loved by the people who use it,” she said. “It is a very precious service in the rural areas. We used to offer a four weekly service and it was changed to three weekly. Now we are changing it back our customers are saying they are delighted because it fits in better with their lives. We have not had any negative responses.”

She added the loan period would be changed accordingly.

Under the plans villages that will go to a four weekly stop include Burgh Castle, those going from two weekly to four weekly include Fritton and St Olaves. Across the borough stops will be altered with some times and days changed.

Currently 11 routes are covered by the Gorleston mobile library. From April to the end of January there were 7,329 visits carried out in which 27,735 items were issued and 103 new library members signed up.

Although the vehicle will no longer be running from Gorleston, there should be improved reliability from the Norwich and North Walsham-based vehicles. Customers have been receiving leaflets on the changes, and full village by village details are available on the NCC website via ‘mobile libraries’ in the A-Z of services.