City's mobile library service is almost at the end of the road
RESIDENTS in Wilford will feel hard done by over plans to scrap the mobile library service, according to a community group secretary.
The plans are part of a budget agreed by Nottingham City Council yesterday.
The ruling Labour group said Government cuts in funding meant the budget was difficult, but David Boulton, of the Wilford Community Group, said the loss of the library would be a blow.
He said: "Part of the justification for closing the village's old library would be that the mobile library would serve the village just as well, so having that cut is a shame.
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"I understand that it's perhaps a bit under-used, but it's not under-valued – the elderly or parents with children that use the service would like it to stay and I think people will feel a bit hard done by.
"We are aware that it costs a lot of money to keep it running and the council has said the vehicle will need replacing, but I don't think they have been creative enough in thinking where the money could be saved to keep the mobile library running – the frequency of the Arrow could be cut for example. It just is quite frustrating.
"Clifton and West Bridgford libraries aren't that easy to get to if you have limited mobility. Some people could make it to the village green for the mobile library, but it's much further to Wilford Lane for a bus to Clifton and there's no easy way of getting to West Bridgford library from the village."
The decision to close the mobile library was made at a council meeting to discuss the authority's £267 million budget for next year. Other cuts include a pay freeze for council staff, a 1.95 per cent increase in council tax and £16.7 million of savings, hitting children's services and adult social care.
But the council has said it has done its utmost to protect basic services such as street cleaning, child protection and community safety and to invest in long-term job creation.
Deputy leader Graham Chapman said: "This is the fourth austerity budget I have had to present and I have to say I was never expecting to be in this difficult position."
Mr Chapman added that the budget was focused on protecting front-line services "to the most vulnerable in our city", maintaining an advice service in the face of benefit cuts, protecting children and supporting "jobs, jobs and more jobs".
The Conservative group called on the council to accept more than £1 million from the Government to freeze council tax. Georgina Culley, leader of the Conservatives in the city, said that money could be saved and increasing council tax was the wrong option.
She added: "Had the council tax freeze grant been accepted for the last three years, a Band D property would be paying £82 less in tax per year."
She also said that the council should drop the Arrow newspaper.
"There could be savings of £160,000 by stopping the Arrow – if residents want Nottingham Labour propaganda, they will have to wait for Labour News to be delivered."
But Mapperley councillor Thulani Molife said the Arrow played a valuable role in informing residents of what goes on in the city.
And council leader Jon Collins said there would be problems for the council's budgets in the future if they accepted the grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
He said: "We took the Government's grant in the first year because the payment carried on, but taking this one-off payment would cause damage to the base – if we had taken it in future years, we could be looking at making £6-7 million of savings.
"The last three years have seen us make savings of £75 million and in the next two years we will need to save £45, maybe £50 million of savings too because of central Government."