Changes to mobile library service could save £54,000 a year
RHONDDA Cynon Taf’s mobile library service could soon be about to change.
The council’s cabinet will consider reducing the service from 393 short stops every fortnight to 48 longer stops every three weeks which it says will save £54,000 a year.
The changes would also reduce the number of existing vehicles used from three to two new purpose built vehicles at a cost of £215,000 which will have onboard Wi-Fi.
The Library Housebound Service or @ HomeLibraryService should accommodate an extra 100-130 customers.
Only 14 councils in Wales still have a mobile library service but RCT says its services has a low number of customers and its longer term sustainability is under threat unless they get new customers.
The reduction in the number of vehicles will also mean a cut to the number of staff. Some staff have previously expressed an interest in redundancy or early retirement and there may be opportunities in library buildings.
There currently 353 street stops that last for 10-15 minutes, 28 stops at sheltered housing units, alcohol/mental health units and residential homes for 20-40 minutes and 12 evening and Saturday stops for three hours where traditional libraries have been closed.
The financial cost of maintaining the current vehicles has risen significantly and the number of missed stops has risen from 72 in 2015/16 to 201 in 2016/17 and 458 in 2017/18.
A total of 60 days of service have already been lost between April 1 and July 30 this year due to breakdowns and repairs which have cost the council £80,000 over the past three years.
A consultation took place between May and July in which 93 per cent of people who responded said they use the service.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, cabinet member for stronger communities, well-being and cultural services said: “A large proportion of responses in the public consultation came from existing service users who are very happy with the excellent current provision, which brings reading materials directly to their street, if not their house.
“However, the service does not have a large number of users, and is increasingly costly due to the increased need for vehicle maintenance and repairs.
“The new proposals would continue to see the mobile library have a strong presence in local communities – particularly those furthest away from a static library.”
“if these proposals are agreed by cabinet, this important service would still be maintained and would remain a generous provision from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council in comparison with other local authorities.”