I visited the mobile library for the first time today. It’s a great little thing – a friendly community hub on wheels which could be so useful in so many ways. The new vehicle, for which capital expenditure has been approved if the running costs can be found, would include a consultation room which would vastly increase the services it could offer.
Apparently quite a number of partners would be interested in working with the mobile library, potentially enabling its running costs to be found from other budgets. Health screening, stop smoking, police community outreach and councillors’ surgeries have all been mentioned. But everything is being rejected by the Green council’s insistence that funding has to be secured for the next ten years for the new vehicle to be bought and the library to continue. Ten years would take us beyond the next local elections but one, and is way more than a lot of organisations and departments can commit this kind of budget for.
Labour councillors have already challenged the ten-year requirement. I think we need to keep doing this, and generate as many ideas as possible for how running costs could be covered through partnerships. It would be such a shame to lose this facility which already provides a useful service and which could be used for so much more. Other councils have set up partnerships and we should be able to do the same.
Temporary funding is in place but this runs out at the end of March.
Tracey Hill is a Member of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party.