Mobile Library savings ‘don’t add up’

Closing down Bath and North East Somerset’s Mobile Library service will not deliver the savings the council has claimed, and the alternative could even cost more money, figures uncovered by Conservative Councillors have revealed.

Lib Dem-run B&NES Council has previously stated that ending the Mobile Library will save the authority over £159,000. However Conservative councillors have discovered that the cost of the proposed replacement service could come to over £160,000, cancelling out these savings.

Following questioning by Conservative councillors, it has emerged that the cost of enabling book lending through local shops and amenities is estimated to be around £2,690 per venue. If this were to take place at sixty venues throughout the authority, around the current number of locations served by the mobile library, the total cost to the council would come to £161,412.

In addition, Conservatives have also questioned whether all the assumed savings from axing the mobile library will materialise, particularly in terms of transport and staffing costs, as the proposed alternative ‘mini-libraries’ and home delivery service will also require staffing and delivery drivers.

Cllr Martin Veal, the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said:

“It’s now clear that the savings the council claims it will make from axing the mobile library are highly questionable at best. Even the Council’s own budget papers show a lower saving than previously claimed. This begs the question as to why Lib Dem councillors are pushing through these damaging plans which will hit elderly residents, school children and young families hardest. It makes a mockery of the claim that they are only closing down the service because of the need to make financial savings.

“The planned closure of the Mobile Library has been poorly thought through, and the Council has even admitted that it hasn’t fully costed its planned alternative service. However, figures we have ascertained show the alternative could cost in excess of £160,000. At this rate it could actually cost the council more money to axe the Mobile Library than to keep it going.

“The Lib Dems should put an immediate halt to these plans and take them back to the drawing board. Conservatives will be fighting tooth and nail to save this valued service which is a lifeline to so many local people.”