TORRIDGE District Council has thrown its weight behind a campaign to save Devon’s mobile libraries as 7,000 people sign petitions to keep them open.

The council supported a motion from Cllr Chris Wheatley (Lib Dem, Shebbear and Langtree) who said that in a deprived area like Torridge “access to books should be increased not removed”.

The campaign to reverse Devon County Council’s decision to cut the service after it said it was not “cost effective” to replace the four ageing vans in its mobile library fleet, has been supported by a whole host of celebrities, authors, actors and presenters.

Torridge and West Devon’s Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox has also backed campaigners and called for “alternative financial models” to sustain the service.

At Torridge District Council’s full council meeting, 22 councillors voted for the motion and one against with all five Conservative councillors in the room abstaining from the recorded vote.

Councillor Wheatley’s motion was as follows: “This council recognises the huge importance of the mobile library service across the whole of the Torridge District. 

“We request that Devon County Council rethink their decision to close the service across Devon and seek a way to replace the mobile library vans. 

“We ask DCC to explore future opportunities of the mobile service which will enhance lives for our rural communities.

“There is a ground swell of public support to save our treasured mobile library service including celebrities and authors, Stephen Fry, Michael Rosen, Michael Morpurgo, Dermot O’Leary, Nick Butterworth, Sarah McIntyre, Jacqueline Wilson, Belinda Bauer, Liz Shakespeare, Veronica Henry, Patrick Gale, Tanya Landman, Claire Barker and Harriet Knock.

“As well as being classified as ‘Rural-80’ with more than 80 per cent of our population living in rural settlements, Torridge is one of the most deprived districts in the country with the second lowest social mobility rate in England, and the third lowest workplace earnings in the UK.

“Books are the foundations of education. To help lift our communities out of poverty, deprivation, isolation, and loneliness we should be increasing access to books not removing them.”

An online petition started by Torridge councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin now has 6,246 signatures bringing the total to around 7,000 with paper petitions.

Cllr Hunkin, who said that figures showing a decline in usage are misleading as the service had been reduced and the number of library vans cut from eight to four, said she hoped that other district councils would follow the lead of Torridge and put pressure on Devon County Council to continue with a mobile library service.

The county council’s scrutiny committee will discuss the matter on September 28.

To sign the petition go to: