Mobile library for Harborough area is next in the cuts firing line

One of the county's mobile  libraries, pictured here at Claybrooke Primary School last February, after library driver Derrick Hodgson retired
One of the county's mobile libraries, pictured here at Claybrooke Primary School last February, after library driver Derrick Hodgson retired

A mobile library service which serves nearly 70 villages in the district every fortnight could be reduced to just one visit a month or be axed altogether.

Cash-strapped Leicestershire County Council runs the mobile library vans, which serve 68 villages in the Harborough district every fortnight, making 87 stops.

But library bosses at County Hall are proposing to reduce the frequency of visits to either one every three weeks or once a month.

And they are also considering a shake-up of the network of stops to “take account of new developments and usage”.

It means villages such as Husbands Bosworth or Foxton, both of which have three stops, or villages which are close together like Medbourne and Hallaton, could lose some of their routes.

If passed, the changes would start in September.

Richard Blunt, the county council’s cabinet member for libraries, said: “It makes sense to consider changes to our mobile library service, to ensure it fits well alongside our plans for community-run libraries.

“I’d encourage people to have their say, before consultation closes on April 8.”

You can have your say at www.leics.gov.uk/haveyoursay/mobilelibraries or by completing a consultation form available at libraries and mobile libraries.

Meanwhile, on the subject of libraries, people have two days left to put themselves forward as volunteers to help keep village libraries open.

Last year, the county council agreed a series of measures to cut £800,000 from the £5.6m libraries budget as part of the authority’s overall £120m cuts target.

In our district, libraries in Kibworth, Fleckney and Great Glen are under threat of closure unless helpers come forward to help run them for free.

The future of Kibworth Library, in Paget Street, was further thrown into doubt this week when a group of volunteers who had previously indicated they might help run it, pulled out.

The LaRK group (Libraries and Resources Kibworth) has pulled back when it found out £12,000 a year was needed.

Dr Kevin Feltham, a Kibworth county councillor, said: “It would be such a shame to see it close. Both parish council in the Kibwoths are now seeing if they can offer any grants to keep the idea alive.”

Linda Marshall, who helped campaign to keep Fleckney Library open, said: “Residents hoped our response to the council’s consultation last year would change their proposals and we are very disappointed that it is still at risk of possible closure.

“The community is very keen for a library service to continue in the village and ideally would wish for it to be run by the council but it is accepted, reluctantly, that this is very unlikely to happen.

“At a meeting on January 6 there was support for the Friends of Fleckney Library to submit a registration of interest to the council in developing plans for a community partnership library.

“If approved, an outline business plan will have to be submitted to the council in March.”

A county council spokesman said: “We are still keen to encourage communities to run local libraries. Just because a group has not submitted a bid in the first wave does not mean the library will close.

“We intend to do further work with communities, after the first groups come forward as a pilot scheme, to promote the range of options that are available.”

To register your interest, call the county council on 0116 305 7034.