Mobile libraries axe sparks fears

CUTTING Essex's mobile library fleet by more than a third could have a significant impact on pensioners in rural communities, it was warned last night.

CUTTING Essex's mobile library fleet by more than a third could have a significant impact on pensioners in rural communities, it was warned last night.

Essex County Council is proposing to slash the number of its vehicles from 16 down to 10 as part of plans to “integrate services”.

But with many elderly people, and some youngsters, in rural communities reliant on the books there are concerns at the impact it could have.

The council hopes it plans will increase efficiency and give value for money - while attempting to maintain an acceptable level of service.


You may also want to watch:


The changes would stop the mobile libraries visiting places less than two miles from normal libraries, unless a specific need was identified.

Areas with that specific need, whether rural or urban, would be visited weekly while other places would drop to a fortnightly visit.

Most Read

However, the council admits there could be an adverse reaction from the public and said the proposal could even by challenged by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Tony Webb, chairman of Colchester Rural Age Concern, said with a growing pensioner population the focus should be on maintaining or increasing the service.

He said: “Certainly it's a reduction in services which we oppose as it is very important for elderly people, many of whom can be on a fixed income.

“It is the kind of service which is very much appreciated by the users and it would be bad news if it was lost as there could be a significant impact.

“The trouble is that all these councils are having to make cuts but cannot plan for any future growth when there will be a growing elderly population.”

The mobile library service currently operates on a weekly basis with 13 vehicles visiting 640 stops across the county.

Three other mobiles visit old people's homes and sheltered accommodation on a four-weekly cycle.

Essex County Council's community services policy development group is meeting to discuss the plans on Monday and could implement them by April next year.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter