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Rural residents could be left isolated by change to mobile library

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

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RURAL residents who rely on a mobile library service will be isolated if a route is taken away, people have argued.

Carlin Anderson, 58, a childminder from Bourton-on- the-Hill, and Judy Monger, 81, from Somerford Keynes, have spoken out about changes to the service.

Both women said they felt "left in the dark" by Gloucestershire County Council as not all details about the changes had been revealed.

But GCC said it had contacted thousands of users to alert them to changes in the months leading up to the withdrawal of the mobile libraries.

They said residents were aware a modified service would be resumed from mid-December.

The county is served by three mobile libraries: central mobile, covering Stroud and the surrounding area, east mobile, touring the Cotswolds, and west mobile, which visits the Forest and its surrounds. But changes to the routes are yet to be announced.

Carlin Anderson, whose grandchildren and friends used the service in "isolated" Bourton-on-the-Hill, said it was only after being directed to a "small white notice" in the vehicle, that she discovered that visit was to be the last, she said.

"We are being penalised just because we are a small rural village.

"We just want 10 minutes at a regular time – it doesn't even have to be every fortnight, it can be every six weeks.

"If it's going to Blockley surely, then they can come to Bourton-on-the-Hill too."

Judy, who had used the service for 54 years, said she currently had books that could be returned in January, but the service would change in December. "We will have to wait to see if we are still on the visiting list. Surely someone must know," she said.

Carlin said mobile libraries were important to her.

"I'm a child minder and I also have small grandchildren," said Carlin.

"I wouldn't want to get the public service bus down to Moreton-in-Marsh when I've got bags and buggies and nappies with me.

"And I don't want to pre-order on the internet. I like to pick up a book, and look through it, look at the blurb, read a couple of pages. It's all part of it."

Library services manager Jo Hand at Gloucestershire County Council said those voicing fears about the mobile library services were in the minority.

"The overwhelming majority of those residents have told us they are able to make alternative arrangements," she said.

"Where users have said that this will be difficult, we have agreed a range of alternatives with them, for example, providing transport to a library club."

OPINION, P8

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  • EllJay1  |  November 13 2012, 2:40PM

    Geraint - I have just red arrowed you. Try putting yourself in the place of someone who lives on their own in a village, is elderly, possibly finds walking difficult, has a lousy bus service so has relied in a mobile library to keep their brain active. Or how about a young mother in a low earning family with no car and a similar lousy bus service? I have every sympathy with anyone in that situation, and I certainly don't agree with the alternative of letting your brain cells atrophy for lack of stimulation.

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  • geraint2010  |  November 13 2012, 2:13PM

    I read a fair bit, my wife is a very avid reader, our house is full of books and we also live out in the sticks. That said - neither of us has used a public library in decades! The world has moved on - get with cheap and cheerful bookshops or go online where second hand books are as cheap as chips and let's keep taxpayers money going where genuine needs exists. OK folks - off you go with the red arrows!

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  • billy25  |  November 13 2012, 12:04PM

    @IsitJimKerr and as for the "don't play the victim" People ARE victims of the cuts and there is no "playing" about it. Whether you believe cuts need to be made or not the cuts that are being made are impacting on the most vulnerable in our society. Gloucestershire County Council in their incompetence are making it even harder. If they had handled this better then at least people would know what to expect instead of having a service taken from them with no information at all provided. It is the least they can do.

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  • billy25  |  November 13 2012, 11:55AM

    @IsitJimKerr your comment smacks of "i am alright Jack" and is somewhat patronising. People cannot always afford ereaders. 40% of Gloucestershire do not have access to the internet. Elderly people should not just be abandoned and expected to "keep with the times" and I know few parents who can afford ereaders for their children. And why should they?! You say "cope with change" books are far from being dead yet and it is a terrible shame that young rural children will not be able to access them anymore through the library bus, nor will elderly people or job-seekers who do not have finances for "alternatives". People who are paying their taxes like everyone else are having services taken away because they live in rural areas. This is hardly "playing the victim card" this is asking to be considered when cuts are drawn up and to be kept informed, as Glos is a large rural county the County Council should be at pains to do this. "making alternatives" is easier said than done when the public transport that could get you to alternatives is non-existent or being cut. Many people, including the elderly would hate to feel like a burden to their neighbours and have to rely on them to get them to a library. It is not that easy to just whizz to the nearest town with a library, which was the whole point of the mobile libraries is in the first place. There is still a need for them. So, please don't play the "I don't need it so no one else will either" card.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 13 2012, 11:34AM

    Yes well that doesn't help people who have lived all their lives in rural villages. They just see their council taxes rising and rising whilst what they are getting for their money is going down. Hence the mobile libraries being cut. Thankfully I am not one of these people being affected but it doesn't stop me from caring about people who are stranded, and who rely on people such as myself to run errands for them.

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  November 13 2012, 10:59AM

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm................rural or city life? Can't see the queue going into towns or cities, but the one coming out is driving the prices through the roof. THAT'S what you get for your couple of grand, and you know it.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  November 13 2012, 9:54AM

    It is like everything else "rural", you still have to pay the same council tax but get very little in return. No buses, no drains cleared, no roads salted in the winter, very few roads repaired, no street lighting. In fact the only thing I can see you do get on a regular basis is the refuse collections. I haven't quite worked out what the £2k/£3k per year council tax is actually going towards, with regards to rural communities.

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  • Ysedra  |  November 13 2012, 9:48AM

    No problem accepting that things need to change in difficult financial times, but honesty from the council would be appreciated, not this culture of secrecy.

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  November 13 2012, 9:20AM

    While I totally understand the need for mobile libraries, and myself hate e.readers etc, always want the tactile books etc, I accept that we have to make cuts. That the service will continue in some shape or form, and may not visit your particular village, hamelet, settlement, etc, surely arrangements can be made around the visit to a nearby town or village. If you currently are not served by the service, then you are already making alternative arrangements, it just needs those that will see changes to realise that the world is moving, and as you have coped with changes in the past, there is a requirement to do so in the future. Please don't play the 'victim' card.

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  • billy25  |  November 13 2012, 8:21AM

    I await the answers to this with interest http://tinyurl.com/ayesb85

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