Changes to mo­bile li­brary ser­vice could save £54,000 a year

Cynon Valley - - NEWS -

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.”

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