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End of road for library after council withdraws vehicle?

A fear has been expressed that the mobile library service based in Bognor Regis could be scrapped.

 

West Sussex County Council has said in the past week the vehicle which provides the service has been taken off the road.

 

It says the mobile library has been suffering problems in the past year which had left it unusable.

 

This leaves its hundreds of booklovers who relied on its fortnightly visits without the ability to borrow or return their favourite volumes.

 

Cllr Francis Oppler (LD, Bognor Regis E) said he was dismayed by the news.

 

“I’m deeply unhappy that, going by the email I’ve received, the county council have had a clear indication that the library has been having problems.

 

“They should have started to plan for its replacement a year ago when they first knew it was an ageing vehicle.

 

“This has been happening in slow motion and I want to know what the library service has been doing about it.

 

“To me, this seems a backdoor way of being able to reduce or cut the service.”

 

The mobile library based at Bognor Regis Library in London Road served 60 locations on its fortnightly timetable.

 

Its area stretched from Findon to Northchapel and across to the boundary with Hampshire. It was said last year 800 people in those locations took the chance to indulge themselves in a novel or collection of short stories from its shelves.

 

Around Bognor Regis, the library made stops between 30-40 minutes at locations such as Grassmere Car Park in Felpham, Shrubbs Field in Middleton and Pagham’s The Parade.

 

Further afield, it visited East Dean Village Hall, Bignor’s Manor Farm and The Green at Northchapel.

 

“The mobile library remains a vital lifeline for many people who don’t have their own transport throughout the Bognor Regis area and further afield.

 

“In Bognor Regis, we have a disproportionately high number of older people, which means the service will continue to have an importance and relevance into the future,” said Cllr Oppler.

 

He said he would be formally seeking a replacement vehicle be bought to enable the service to be resumed as soon as possible.

 

“This is not just about people being able to borrow books. It’s also the human contact they gain from visiting the library. That is just as important,” he said.

 

News about the vehicle’s withdrawal was given in an email by Cllr Debbie Kennard, the council’s cabinet member for safer stronger communities.

 

She wrote that the mobile service had spent ‘a significant time’ off the road in the past year owing to mechanical failures.

 

“Unfortunately, the vehicle used is no longer serviceable and the difficult decision has been taken to take it off the road permanently,” she stated.

 

She added the decision was made after advice from the council’s transport services section, which was responsible for assessing the vehicle’s road worthiness.

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