Call for consultations on mobile library cut and public toilet closures rejected

Calls by Conservative councillors for B&NES to undertake public consultations on plans to cut the mobile library service and close 13 public toilets have been rejected.

At the Council’s budget-setting meeting last week, Conservative councillors pressed the Council to consult residents before taking a final decision on the planned cuts. However, the Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces to throw out the proposals.

As part of its budget for this year, Liberal Democrat-run B&NES plans to take one of two mobile library vehicles off the road. Under the Conservative plan, the service would have continued on its existing timetable for the next year whilst the Council undertakes a consultation with service users on the planned changes. The Council would also have been required to consult local communities on plans to close public toilets and ask residents their views on proposed alternative provision.

Conservatives have said they are disappointed that their proposals were rejected, but will continue to press for local residents to have their say on the Council’s plans.

Conservative shadow spokesman for Tourism, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Martin Veal, who moved the amendment at the Council meeting, said:

“We wanted the public to have their say on plans to close public toilets and cut the mobile library before any final decisions are taken. But unfortunately, Labour and Lib Dem councillors didn’t agree and blocked this request.

“The mobile library is an extremely valued service by many local people, especially school children, young families and elderly residents. We feel it’s only right that they get a chance to give their views before the service is cut back, especially before the council’s Community Library programme is fully rolled-out. At the moment, we don’t even know what the reduced timetable will look like.”

Councillor Michael Evans, Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, added:

“We also believe B&NES should give residents the chance to comment on plans to close a number of public toilets, and on the alternatives proposed. Some of the toilets earmarked for closure are near parks, shops and High Streets, and most communities don’t want an abandoned public toilet left to deteriorate.

“We hope that B&NES may yet back down on this and start a dialogue with local residents.”