The campaign to reverse Devon County Council’s decision to cut Devon’s mobile library service now has more than 5,000 signatures, with the TV presenter Carol Vorderman the latest high-profile figure to lend their support.
The council has previously said it was not “cost-effective” to replace the four ageing vans in its mobile library fleet.
However, Torridge and West Devon MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has lent his support to campaigners.
In a statement issued to Torridge’s Cllr Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin, who is leading the campaign to save the mobile library service, he said that he ‘strongly supports’ the continuation of our mobile libraries and sees them as ‘an important service to our rural communities’, calling for ‘alternative financial models to sustain them.’
Cllr Cottle-Hunkin, has presented figures which show that in the last five years there has been “no obvious decline” in usage and that in huge areas of Devon numbers have increased significantly. She has argued that the figures which show a decline since 2012 are misleading because the service had already been reduced and the number of mobile library vans cut from eight to four.
She and others have called for discussions on opportunities to use the library vans to offer additional services to rural communities such as partnerships with the deaf association, opportunities to work with Citizens Advice, and the potential for a council enquiry service.
Commenting on a meeting with Sir Geoffrey to discuss the issue, Councillor Cottle-Hunkin said: “Sir Geoffrey was aware of the impact the campaign to save the service is having and told us he has been hearing about it from worried constituents.
“He agreed with our arguments that Devon County Council could learn from other councils who are developing mobile libraries to provide a range of other services, and that there are options to look at alternative ways of funding them.
“The county council has a statutory obligation to provide equal access to books through the library service. I therefore hope that when the matter comes before the Scrutiny Committee on September 28, councillors will take heed of the strength of support there is for maintaining the mobile library service and be more pro-active in imagining its future.”
The petition to Save Devon’s mobile libraries can be signed at: www.change.org/SaveOurMobileLibrary