The completion of Kent County Council’s fleet of new mobile libraries has coincided with a national award for the way they were produced and equipped.
KCC now has five modern vehicles, touring the county to service residents who find it difficult to visit a conventional library building.
The award came from the vehicle manufacturer Iveco and the design was recognised at the company’s inaugural Daily Mission Awards.
A judging panel including key personnel from IVECO, Highways England, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Glass’s Guide and What Van magazine, judged the fleet to be the winner in the category of Lifestyle and Passenger Transport.
It was judged on areas such as design innovation, sustainability, safety, customer satisfaction and corporate social responsibility.
The new vehicles were supplied by Haynes of Maidstone and adapted and fitted out by Euromotive. will be carrying around 800-900kg of books on purpose-built shelving.
KCC has invested in five new vehicles to cover various routes across Kent – including the surrounding areas of Ashford, Dover, Maidstone, Northfleet and Sturry. They offer greater reliability, reduced maintenance costs, and are more economical to drive than the older vehicles.
Mike Hill, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “I am delighted that our new mobile libraries are being enjoyed by our customers. There was a real need to replace the older vehicles so that we can maintain the excellent customer service residents expect from Kent libraries.
“We know from customer feedback that the mobile service has been a real lifeline to many residents during lockdown, and I am pleased that our new vehicles will be reliable, comfortable and will improve customer satisfaction.”
Overseeing the project for KCC was Phil Downing, the council’s Service Manager for Projects, who said: “The existing mobile libraries were becoming increasingly unreliable due to their age and the council recognised that it was time to replace the entire fleet.
“We therefore took the opportunity to re-design the fit-out for our new fleet, which includes a rear passenger side wheelchair lift, a power door, internal librarian’s working area as well as the latest technology including solar panels, telematics, air conditioning and Wi-Fi.”
Nick Hannan, the Truck Sales Manager for Haynes, said: “From initial conversations through to delivery of the complete vehicles, this was an 18-month collaboration between Haynes Trucks, IVECO, KCC and Euromotive.
“These vehicles were designed from scratch to the specific requirements of KCC, from the length of the body, down to the width of the shelving on board. The finished article is something that we are immensely proud of, as it embodies everything we stand for. We provide bespoke solutions designed around our customer.
“I am particularly proud to have been involved in something which gives a genuine lifeline to many members of the local community. These new IVECO vehicles are agile enough to serve parts of the county that would otherwise be inaccessible.
“Not only that, but they also bring very real environmental benefits, with the use of solar energy and the latest engines, again benefitting the people of Kent.”
For more information on Kent Libraries and the mobile service, visit www.kent.gov.uk/libs