Conservatives give green light for decline in rural services
The mobile library is one of those icons in the rural scene, like the post-office, local shop and pub. Now, like the post-office, local shop and pub, it is set to disappear.
Devon County Council Conservatives voted unanimously, at the recent Council Cabinet meeting, to close the mobile library service and to ‘save’ the princely sum of £217,000. It’s a move that tacitly condones the view that if you live in a rural hamlet or village, you are ‘too expensive’ to enjoy the services that those in the towns and cities take for granted. Those banks now closing local branches can point to this decision and say "see the Council agrees with us… it’s just not economic".
It is a mindset that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Increasingly services are being stripped from local rural communities; bus and rail services disappear or become increasingly infrequent, or only available between 9am and 6pm; getting to see your Doctor becomes more difficult as there are fewer of them; dentists just disappear; roads go unrepaired; hospitals are an hour away; shops close; banks close; post-offices close…
Devon County Council had the chance to say "rural communities count too" but failed.
It is known that Devon County Council faces a funding crisis after a decade of Conservative austerity, but the Conservatives in charge of the council also lacked the imagination and ambition to find new sources of money for the libraries. Suggestions to seek funding from the ‘levelling up’ fund, or to approach the likes of banks to see if a hybrid service might be possible, seem to have been dismissed out of hand. You are left feeling that the motivation is just not there.
It will of course be the most needy and most isolated that are affected by this decision, but it also is a ‘green light’ for the view that rural communities are just too expensive so ‘why bother?’.
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Central Devon