Northamptonshire County Council is going through its budget again to find enough cuts to make it lawful by February 28 but one service has already had the brakes slammed on – mobile library vans.
The Full Council meeting on February 22 was supposed to set the full budget but auditors KPMG warned that the plan to partly fund next year’s services by selling off land and property might not work.
The uncertain nature of property sales which might fall through or fail to garner sufficient income meant that the council could be setting a budget it could not afford which it is not allowed to do by law.
That resulted in the council taking the decision to ban new spending and the mobile library fleet – made up of aging vehicles that throw up unexpected repair bills – is considered potentially too expensive to keep running.
It was already earmarked to be cut as part of the three option review of Northamptonshire’s library services – none of the options included the retention of the library vans.
However the upshot of the emergency budget measures is that the mobile libraries are going immediately.
The following letter has been sent to parish councils in the county:
Dear Parish Councillors
LibraryPlus Mobile Library Service – immediate withdrawal of service
As you will no doubt be aware, the public consultation around the future of the Library Service has included the deletion of the Mobile Library Service and the service has been running as normal pending the final Council decision.
However, due to the age and the condition of the vehicle, there is a risk of incurring expensive repair work each time it goes out and the recent spending controls imposed by the Director of Finance under Section 114 mean that we have had to withdraw the service with immediate effect.
We will be contacting all existing Mobile Library customers individually to explain the situation.
We have also made arrrangements for our Mobile Library Driver to continue to visit the mobile library stops for one last visit to see as many customers as possible. He will be stopping at the normal place at the normal time, but in a different vehicle, to collect stock from customers.
If customers are not able to attend the last mobile library visit they can return any items to any of our libraries. All overdue charges will be waived.
Any residents who would like to continue to use the library service, but are unable to visit their nearest library, can be considered for home delivery through our Library to You service. They can either speak to our mobile van driver at his last visit, or contact their nearest library for further details.
More information on a planned expansion of the Library to You service will be announced in due course.
I hope that this information helps you to address any related questions from residents, but if you have any further questions relating to the Mobile Library Service, please contact NLIS Feedback at NLISfeedback@firstforwellbeing.co.uk
Strategic Development and Income Generation Manager
Northamptonshire Library & information Services