Fight goes on to turn page on mobile library vans

Councillor Mitchell believes the mobile library vans are important social links for the lonely, isolated, elderly and disabled.
Councillor Mitchell believes the mobile library vans are important social links for the lonely, isolated, elderly and disabled.

Harris and South Lochs Councillor John G. Mitchell has committed himself to the fight for the continuation of mobile library vans in rural areas.

It is a cause which has touched a nerve with his constituents, as he explained: “I am often asked what I am doing to further the case for the replacement of the fleet of mobile library vans, which are so vital in rural areas, such as Harris and South Lochs.

“I recently made a presentation to the Communities and Housing Committee in the Comhairle Chamber and passionately defended the mobile library service, reflecting the strong feelings of the lonely, the isolated, the elderly and the disabled, who are hugely dependent on this lifeline service.”

Mr Mitchell revealed that the issue had to go through three Committee stages before any concrete decision could be made.

He added: “As part of the continuing exercise by the Council to look in more detail at ‘service redesign’ in order to get more value for money, many members are saying that the service has to justify itself much more by performing other tasks.

“I know money is tight and has to be carefully managed, but since when did support to the most vulnerable parts of our Island Community require such focussed justification? I would ask for support from Councillors from rural areas, as well as others of course, to support the reinstatement of those mobile library vans with some urgency.”

Councillor Mitchell highlighted that he believes the Comhairle’s credibility will diminish in the Harris and South Lochs area if the library vans are not replaced and the feeling that the Local Authority is more Stornoway driven, rather than rural areas, will be underlined.

He continued: “By voting against replacements of the library vans and demanding even more justification for them being on the road, it would only play into the hands of those doubters in our local community, who believe that the so called ‘rural dimension’ counts for nothing.

“For those reasons I would urge my fellow members to give serious consideration to voting for replacement vans.”

*It is believed that another vote has taken place about the renewal of the mobile library vans, with the result of placing the matter into ‘service redesign’, and increasing fears that this could spell the death knell for the service.