EAST Lothian’s mobile libraries have been axed “for the time being”.

A decision was taken last Friday to “cease” the service on a temporary basis.

A version of the service, which saw a vehicle tour villages throughout the county over a two-week cycle, could return but it is unlikely to be until the new financial year.

Councillor Stuart Currie, leader of the council's SNP opposition, described the service as “much more than a library for much of our rural county”. He said: “It is a lifeline service that effectively brings the council to the people of East Lothian.

“Many communities will be hit hard and SNP councillors are particularly concerned about the removal of a library service that is often the only contact many elderly will have in their village. This decision must now be put on hold and brought to the council.”

A council paper is yet to be produced on the future of the mobile library service as a permanent decision on its future is yet to be reached. The current decision was taken by the service manager of customer services, in consultation with senior management. It is not yet known what will happen to the books or the member of staff.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “When proposals for a permanent way forward are determined, these proposals will go to elected members.

“Significant investment would be required for East Lothian Council to continue to provide its own mobile library service and that would be considered in conjunction with all the other demands on services currently.”

Councillor Tim Day, council spokesman for community wellbeing, said: “With changes in the mobile library service in recent years, more school class visits are being made to the branch libraries.

“There are currently around 400 regular borrowers using the mobile service but approximately 70 per cent of these are also choosing to use local branches.

“We are in discussions with neighbouring councils about possible sharing of mobile library resources but it’s clear registrations are decreasing.

“Significant investment would need to be made to continue a service where demand is decreasing and service provision is limited in comparison with branch libraries. We continue to provide a service to those who are housebound and our volunteer delivery drivers play an invaluable role in tackling isolation felt by those unable to leave their homes.”