The purpose of the review in July and August 2012 was to investigate whether the 39 mobile library stops with an average of one or zero customers per visit in 2011/12 had potential for increased custom. Customers, mobile library drivers, County Councillors and Parish, Town and District councils were given the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions for increasing the use of these stops. If a stop had no potential for increased custom then it was proposed to withdraw the stop in late October 2012, subject to the approval of the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation on 27 September 2012. Capacity released by withdrawal of stops would be used to lengthen the time at stops that had too many customers to comfortably use the mobile library in the time allowed.
The public consultation closed on 24 August 2012 by which time 29 responses had been received. These responses related to 12 out of the 39 stops included in the consultation, meaning that no feedback was received for 27 out of the 39 stops. The majority of reponses were received via the online form set up for the consultation, or by email, with three arriving in the post. Six of the responses related to stops not included in the consultation or were general comments.
Following analysis of the feedback and responses received during the consultation it is proposed that 29 out of the 39 stops under discussion are withdrawn. Of the 10 stops to be retained 5 will be moved to a different but nearby location, one will change time, one will combine with another stop and three will remain the same. All will be actively advertised, as will the rest of the 334 mobile library stops.
In addition 14 stops outside of those under consultation will be altered. Of these one will move location, 10 stops will have their time increased, and two of the 10 will increase in frequency from every four weeks to fortnightly. Three stops that are weekly will be reduced in length. This will enable the two stops mentioned above to become fortnightly and will enable two new stops to be introduced.
Details of the stops affected can be found in Appendix 1. These changes were approved by the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation on 27 September 2012.
Exact details of stops, routes, dates and times for the Mobile Library Service from 22 October will be available in late September 2012.
The current mobile library service has been operating for a year following the major review in May 2011. Many of the 363 stops are successful, but some have had little or no custom. There are 39 stops which have had on average one or zero customers per visit since the new service started in July 2011. These stops are not best use of resources and each one will be investigated through discussion with drivers, customers, county councillors and Parish or Town councils to see if, by making changes, the stop has potential for increased custom.
If there is no potential for improvement the stops will be withdrawn in October 2012, subject to the approval of the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation in September 2012. The capacity released will be used to increase the length or frequency of a few stops that have been identified as needing to be longer because they are busier than originally anticipated. There may also be some changes made to a few other stops that are underused compared to their length of visit. Inevitably these changes may have an impact on the timing at other stops, but we will keep these to a minimum, so that as few customers as possible are affected.
Drivers will be talking to customers affected during July and August 2012. Customers and other interested parties will have the opportunity to have their say through a paper questionnaire available on the mobile libraries or by completing the online form. The closing date for the consultation is 24 August 2012.
An Equality Impact assessment has been prepared for the proposal.
Last October 2010 we announced a review of the Mobile Library Service. Over the last 5 years visits to stops have declined by more than 23%. We know that the people who still use the service value it very highly, but the current financial situation and decrease in use means we have had to consider how to achieve the most effective service for Hampshire communities whilst making significant savings to the running costs. Along with every other services in Hampshire County Council the Library Service has to make savings of at least 16% over the next two years.
These changes were shared with interested parties during consultation in November and December 2010. These parties included customers, parish, town and district councils, Care Home Managers and adjacent authorities. The public was involved through questionnaires given to customers, press releases and Hantsweb. 2,400 customers responded, as did Care Home Managers, Parish, Town and District Councils. Feedback received was taken into account in preparing the details of the proposed new service. These details were made available to the interested parties in January 2011 and a further 199 comments were received. These comments were used to finalise the new service which was approved by the Executive Member for Culture and Recreation on 8 March 2011.
The number of mobile library stops will reduce from over 1200 to 365. This includes the 52 stops added back and the 31 withdrawn as a result of consultation in January and February 2011.
The current Mobile Library Service will cease on 24 June 2011 and the new service will start on 4 July 2011. The week in between will be used to take the existing stock off the current vehicles and to put the best of this stock and new stock on the 4 vehicles that will deliver the new Service. Stock will also be stored at each vehicle base to replenish the mobile libraries each day.
These are significant changes led by the need to make large financial savings. We have undertaken an Equalities Impact Assessment on the proposal.