Councillors make bid for new mobile library vans now

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A final bid to secure the immediate purchase of new vans for the mobile library service failed to secure sufficient support at this week’s meeting of the full Comhairle.
Harris and South Lochs councillor, John Mitchell tabled a motion calling for the vans to be purchased without further delay and ahead of moves to have the future of the mobiles libraries included in wider public consultations planned by the Comhairle on the future of local services.  

FEARS OF MOBILE LIBRARY ERADICATION


Introducing his motion, calling for the ‘Comhairle to proceed with the procurement of two replacement vehicles, one for Lewis and Harris and one for Uist and Barra’, Cllr Mitchell said: “This service strikes at heart of what we as a council set out to do, to protect vulnerable members of our society and to provide services in remote environments.
“We have been presented with a variety of options about its future and they all share one theme, its eradication.

“I think there are four reasons why we should support this service - it is a service that supports our vulnerable and fragile communities; service redesign is a concept that should reflect a better and more efficient way of delivering a service, not abolishing it; other rural and island local authorities have vans and support those services, and I feel it is our responsibility as councillors to not lose sight of our duties, and I call on those who represent rural wards to support this service.”  

2015 DECISION TO FINANCE REPLACEMENT MOBILE LIBRARY VANS

Westside and Ness councillor, John N Macleod, supporting the motion, said: “In 2015 we decided finance would be there for this service and a replacement of the vans. It is well used, and I feel that it is something we will lose if it goes through the service redesign process.”
Also supporting the motion, Loch a’ Tuath councillor, Calum MacLean said:”I think we are prevaricating. The numbers for users are compelling, the service is being used well, and I think we should advertise it even more.
“We have all accepted that we will have the vans, the vans are essential, and in the Convenor’s own constituency there are 56 registered users.”
Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eiriosgaigh agus Uibhist a Deas councillor Calum MacMillan commented: “I support the mobile library service. I feel it is the responsibility of us all in rural areas to do our best to keep as many services as we can. We cannot put this service aside - there is capital funding to buy the vans and it has been ring-fenced.
“We’ve had these libraries almost since the time this council was started, and if we lose this service we are losing the identity of this council and why it was started.”

THREAT TO MOBILE LIBRARY FUTURE DISPUTED


But a number of councillors disputed the claim that the option to include the mobile service in the public consultations on service redesign, represented a threat to its future.
Replying to the motion, Comhairle Leader, Roddie MacKay, expressed exacerbation that the matter had been raised again:  “We have already discussed this, and we agreed earlier today to consult with communities on a range of options including retaining the service in full.”
Stornoway South councillor, Angus McCormack said: “We are going to go through a process of community conversations on service changes, and if you pass this motion tonite you drive a coach and horses through that process.
“It is very important that all communities get a chance to be consulted on this and to see if there is a better way of delivering this service. It is no use trying to cherry-pick services out of that process, we have to let communities decide.
“I say to you all, don’t lose your nerve at this point, otherwise we are short changing our communities.”

TAKE TIME FOR A PROPER AND REASONABLE DECISION


Convenor, Cllr. Norman A MacDonald, said: “I am very aware of the importance of the library service to rural communities. I see this as an opportunity through the conversations we are going to have with communities, and that’s why I think we should take out time to take a proper and reasonable decision. What happens if the communities tell us that they have different priorities to this?”
Point councillor Norrie MacDonald, who has campaigned for the purchase of the new vans, sought a guarantee from council leader, Cllr Roddie Mackay, that all options for the future of the service would be considered in the community consultation process before supporting the leader’s position.
In closing the debate, Councillor MacKay gave that guarantee saying: “It would be a little silly now to say let’s not speak to our communities. I give the guarantee about the options. In the Service Redesign process we are trying to improve the services. Let’s see what the communities say.”
The vote by councillors on the motion resulted in 12 councillors in favour, with 18 against, and the motion was lost.

COUNCILLORS VOTES

Councillors who voted for amendment:

Cllr John Mitchell (Harris and South Lochs)

Cllr John N Macleod (West Side and Ness)

Cllr Kenneth Macleod (West Side and Ness)

Cllr Donald Manford (Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist)

Cllr Calum Macmillan (Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist)

Cllr Charlie Nicolson (Stornoway South)

Cllr Rae Mackenzie (Stornoway South)

Cllr Gordon Murray (Stornoway North)

Cllr Calum Maclean (Loch a Tuath)

Cllr John A Maciver (Loch a Tuath)

Cllr Ranald Fraser (Sgir’ Uige Agus Ceann A Tuath Nan Loch)

Cllr Finlay Stewart (Point)

Councillors who voted to include service in community conversations along with other services in service redesign:

Cllr Paul Steele (Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist)

Cllr Iain Macneil (Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist)

Cllr Uisdean Robertson (Beinn na Faoghla Agus Uibhist A Tuath)

Cllr Iain M Macleod (Beinn na Faoghla Agus Uibhist A Tuath)

Cllr Roddy Mackay (Beinn na Faoghla Agus Uibhist A Tuath)

Cllr Paul Finnegan (Harris and South Lochs)

Cllr Angus Morrison (Sgir’ Uige Agus Ceann A Tuath Nan Loch)

Cllr Norman A Macdonald (Sgir’ Uige Agus Ceann A Tuath Nan Loch)

Cllr Keith Dodson (Stornoway South)

Cllr Angus McCormack (Stornoway South)

Cllr Roddie Mackay (Stornoway North)

Cllr Iain Macaulay (Stornoway North)

Cllr Neil Mackay (Stornoway North)

Cllr Norman Macdonald (Point)

Cllr Alasdair Macleod (Point)

Cllr John Mackay (West Side and Ness)

Cllr Kenny John Macleod (West Side and Ness)

Cllr Donald Crichton (Loch a Tuath)