(The Chair exercised his discretion and brought forward this item of business on the agenda).
In accordance with the Council's Public Participation Rules, the Council had received 27 questions from members of the public on the following matters;
1. elderly residents who cannot access the internet, the social lifeline of the mobile library and how residents might be able to obtain reading material and receive social contact;
2. children's services in towns and cities, and whether children in rural areas should have services removed to benefit towns and cities;
3. public quotes regarding mobile libraries and rural communities and what had changed;
4. consideration of being a pioneer in the Southwest for using mobile library service as a multi-purpose vehicle - providing several services within it;
5. usage of Mobile Library and data used;
6. substitution of Mobile Library with Good Neighbour / Home Library Scheme and removing freedom of choice and independence;
7. Library Strategy and reference thereto;
8. Usage of the mobile libraries to provide other services in our rural areas, as done in other counties;
9. why Devon Mobile Library Service was not marketed online or on social media;
10. change of the policy of removing stops of fewer than 5 people, and adding stops to other rural areas for those who wish to use;
11. support for mobile library service from Torridge and role of community libraries;
12. alternative provision of community libraries and where support (access of broadband, volunteers, rotation of the book stock, ordering) comes from;
13. Has any consideration been given to running a hybrid-service that combines the mobile library with other services (banking, post office, pharmacy etc);
14. Grant Funding from Government for Vehicle Replacement;
15. equality impact assessment – whether sufficient to comply with its equality duty;
16. Prime Minister’s speech on the country’s education system and how this would be achieved if taking away books from disadvantaged children, students at school, home education etc;
17. Queen Street and loss of on-street parking income;
18. Kenwyn care home (Ashburton) and plans for the future of the former care home;
19. community library and levels of service (numbers, range of books and provision for those with no transport);
20. saving the mobile library;
21. range of services that mobile libraries could provide (e.g. selling stamps, hearing aid batteries, providing advice leaflets and local information);
22. concern that closure of the service in rural communities is being considered;
23. accessibility and travel and how disabled users access the library service and travel times if the Mobile Library Service closed;
24. support and contribution to the Government’s “Unleashing `Rural Opportunities” strategy (which reports a commitment to improving rural library services);
25. opportunities for enhanced social interaction and mitigations to replace these if mobile service was withdrawn;
26. accessibility issues with volunteers and / or strangers; and
27. recommendation of the recent Scrutiny Meeting, and consideration of all possible practical and economical means to maintain the mobile library service.
The Cabinet Member responded orally to one supplementary question arising from the above (question 17). A copy of the questions and answers had been sent direct to those questioners who were not present in the meeting.
The Cabinet was then advised that the matter of the mobile library, on which 25 questions had been posed, would at the appropriate time in the meeting move a motion to defer the matter to give due consideration to the matters raised by the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee.
(NB: A copy of the questions and answers are available on webpage for meeting and any supplementary questions and answers may be observed through livestream of the meeting)