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Axe could fall on Clay Bus library and information service

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

PILOT SERVICE:  Cornwall councillors and officers looking delighted when the bus was first launched back in October 2012.

PILOT SERVICE: Cornwall councillors and officers looking delighted when the bus was first launched back in October 2012.

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THE AXE could fall on a mobile library and information service for Clay Country residents just over a year since it was launched.

Back in October 2012 Cornwall Council launched the new pilot service the Clay Bus in a bid to bring council and library services closer to rural communities.

For the past 15 months the bus has stopped once a week at villages within the Clay Country area including Bugle, Fraddon, St Stephen and Nanpean.

But now Cornwall Council could slam the brakes on the service in its bid to make cuts of over £40 million from its 2014-2015 budget, in the face of slashed Government funding.

The authority is planning to consult on a plan to stop both the mobile library and mobile one stop shop.

For most of the areas their nearest alternative provision is St Austell town centre.

Cornwall councillor Dick Cole, for St Enoder, was instrumental in helping to get the provision to the Clay Country residents.

Mr Cole said he is "desperately disappointed" that the services are under threat, and added that "other rural areas are also likely to see a disproportionate decline in the provision of their local services".

Verna Hedley, St Stephen-in-Brannel Parish Council clerk, said the service was well-used, especially by the elderly.

"It would be a great, great shame if we were to lose it," she said.

Mrs Hedley said she expected the news to be met with upset and anger by the parish councillors.

Cornwall councillor Matthew Luke, for Penwithick, said: "Not everyone can get into St Austell, especially the elderly and mothers with young kids who do not have transport. It would be a really great shame, it's a wonderful service."

Mr Luke said until Cornwall Council had properly sorted out what it must keep and what is must lose to balance its budget, then all services should be retained.

"It's easy to point the finger and say money is being thrown away [by Cornwall Council] but what it boils down to is central Government not giving rural areas the same amount of funding that they give to inner city areas."

In St Dennis and Roche, although the bus stops once a week they also have community libraries.

Cornwall councillor Fred Greenslade, for St Dennis and Nanpean, said: "I think it is a backward step and not good at all."

Mr Greenslade said he was aware the buses needed refurbishment but was "pretty disappointed" at the decision to consult on stopping it altogether.

A Cornwall Council spokesman said once a decision is taken on when the consultation will be held the dates will be publicised.

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