Residents will be asked for their views in a consultation starting next week on proposed changes to Derbyshire County Council’s mobile library service to help the authority deal with budget cuts.
The authority is facing budget pressures like never before and needs to save £157 million by 2018. It is calling this ‘The Derbyshire Challenge’.
Reductions in Government grants, inflation and greater demands on areas in the council’s budget for adult social care and vulnerable children mean it must re-think the way it delivers services. It means some services will remain, some will be run differently and some will have to stop.
It costs the council £720,000 a year to run its mobile library service which currently employs 26 people - equivalent to 18 full time staff.
The 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.
Four potential options to make savings were approved for consultation by Cabinet in December and from Monday (January 13) residents will have the chance to have their say in a two-stage process. The options being consulted on 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 will ask for initial views on these options, any proposals for community offers or any other options which people put forward. The second stage will 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’re facing unprecedented pressures on our budget which sadly means we have no alternative but to review all our services, including libraries.
“We’re inviting residents to make comments on the four options and making that as easy as possible with questionnaires available in all our branch and mobile libraries, in GP surgeries, by calling us for a copy or completing it on our website.
“We’re also making sure we’re doing things as efficiently as possible by scrutinising spending, reviewing senior management and selling off redundant land and buildings, but unfortunately there will still be further cuts to make.
“That’s why we want to make sure as many people as possible get the chance to have their say and will use the comments we receive to develop a more detailed second stage of consultation before we decide on any detailed plans.”
The council’s mobile library service is used by older people, families, schools, playgroups, nurseries, young people and some housebound customers.
MCVs are used to serve larger communities without a branch library, usually fortnightly for a half or full day. Standard vehicles provide shorter visits 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.
Questionnaires are available in all Derbyshire County Council branch and mobile libraries and GP surgeries or can be completed online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/mobilelibraries
Copies can also be requested from Call Derbyshire on 01629 533365.
Stage one of the consultation will run until Saturday 1 March and a more detailed stage two is due to start in April and run until June. It is expected final proposals will be presented to the council’s Cabinet for consideration in September.
For more information about The Derbyshire Challenge visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/challenge