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Mobile library service is saved as villagers bring council to book

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: February 16, 2012

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The area's mobile library service has been saved from the axe following strong opposition across Bath and North East Somerset.

On Tuesday the council agreed to spare the service from budget cuts after councillors were presented with a petition signed by 860 people.

The U-turn took place following protests in villages which would have been affected by the withdrawal of the mobile library, including Timsbury.

Villagers of all ages in Timsbury turned out in force at the mobile library's recent visit to take part in a hug-in organised by the Women's Institute.

Phillida Russell, from the WI, said at the protest: "We feel strongly that rural communities are often the first to suffer cutbacks despite our contributions through council tax.

"There are many instances where rural areas suffer from double taxation and the parish council becomes responsible for services that in towns appear to be paid for by the district council. Is the same thing happening to our mobile library?"

Among those who took part in the demonstration was the village rector, the Rev Chris Hare.

He said: "I fear that councillors have a tendency to put the city of Bath first before those who live outside the city, particularly in the rural areas.

"There are many elderly people in villages such as Timsbury who cannot get to a library easily as bus services are so infrequent.

"I know that many young families rely on the mobile library to get reading material for their children and again taking a number of children into a town or city library is extremely difficult."

The council had proposed cutting the mobile library as part of a wider budget plan to save about £12 million in 2012/13.

Speaking after the council voted to maintain the service, Councillor Martin Veal, the Conservative shadow cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: "This decision marks a great victory for all those campaigning to save our area's mobile library."

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