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Call for controversial cuts to Norfolk’s mobile libraries to be ditched

PUBLISHED: 17:22 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 09 October 2018

Mobile libraries in Norfolk could be cut. Picture: James Bass

Mobile libraries in Norfolk could be cut. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

Cuts to Norfolk’s mobile library service should be abandoned, say opposition Liberal Democrats, who have tabled a motion urging the county council to ditch the proposals.

Liberal Democrat Norfolk county councillor Sarah Butikofer. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Liberal Democrat Norfolk county councillor Sarah Butikofer. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

When it agreed its budget earlier this year, Norfolk County Council outlined how it wanted to reduce the budget for mobile libraries.

The council has eight mobile libraries, but from next year, it plans to cut more than 40pc from the budget to run them.

A review of the routes based on seven criteria, considered by members in July, identified that 725 stops would be removed if it was progressed.

But a new proposal would instead see mobile libraries visiting each stop every four weeks and removing 92 stops, which the council says are not currently used.

Two vehicles would be scrapped, to save £100,000 a year, with the communities committee due to back the proposal on Wednesday.

But the Lib Dems want the savings scrapped completely - hence their motion for Monday’s meeting.

The motion calls for the cut to be reversed so a “full review of the service can be undertaken prioritising how the service can meet the needs of people who use it, rather than motivated by the need to make the savings.

County councillor Sarah Butikofer said: “Going out on the mobile library has shown me the reliance of some of our most vulnerable elderly and isolated residents on this service.

“Many users are carers or live alone and this service provides just a few minutes interaction with another human being once a month, aside from its primary function, as well giving them the joy of reading.

“We want to see a greater connected Norfolk ensuring everyone has fair and equal access to services and making a better life for local communities.

“To take away people’s access to books is to take away a major and possibly only way they can connect to the rest of society.”

Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of the communities committee, recently said: “We have significant savings to make but we need a solution that delivers minimum impact on the residents across Norfolk who rely on our mobile libraries. This feels like a good solution that will deliver savings yet secure the future of the service.”

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