Cabinet will consider changes to the Council’s Mobile Library Service, which have been proposed to attract more service users and ensure it remains sustainable over the longer term and relevant to residents.
In March 2018, Cabinet agreed an eight-week consultation on proposed changes to the service which, despite promotion, has a low take-up. In order for it to continue, the Council needs to attract more service users.
Among the proposed changes is to reduce the number of service vehicles from three to two. Each of the three existing vehicles is past its operational life, and 60 days of the service was lost from April to July this year due to breakdown and repairs – which have cost £80,000 over the past three years.
If approved, the Council will fund two brand new vehicles which would be purpose-built – and unlike the existing vehicles they would have on-board access to Wi-Fi and provide other Council information services.
The Council also consulted on a proposed change to the method of delivery, from 393 short stops per fortnight to 48 longer stops every three weeks. This would allow the range of provision on the vehicles to expand. It is suggested that no stops are within one-mile of a static library, so the Mobile Library is more easily accessible for people living furthest away from their local library.
The scope and access of the Council’s Library Housebound Service would be altered under the proposals, in order to engage more residents.
This service caters for residents who, for a number of reasons, cannot access a local library – and materials are delivered to their home every four weeks. The proposal is to rebrand the service and expand it to include individuals who have mobility problems, are full-time carers, or who live more than two miles from the nearest static library.
The consultation from May 8 to July 3 saw 389 questionnaires returned. More than 93% of respondents were Mobile Library Service users. Cabinet will discuss consultation feedback at their meeting on Thursday, September 20.
Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, said: “Cabinet will discuss a report outlining proposed changes to the Mobile Library Service, which were consulted upon over an eight-week period. The proposals were brought forward by Officers as the best option to ensure the service remains sustainable in the long-term, and benefits a wider range of residents.
“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.
“In addition, many of the respondents indicated that they used the mobile service due to its convenience while also using a static library. Responses also suggest many users do not know they qualify for the Housebound Service. Therefore, many of the residents who disagreed with the proposed changes in the consultation would still have an equally convenient access to the wider Library Service under these proposals.
“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 – with only 14 of the 22 Welsh Councils currently retaining a Mobile Library Service.”
The changes put forward aim to achieve annual savings of £54,499 for the Council.
Posted on Thursday 13th September 2018