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Houses on beach cliffCarmarthenshire Council recently announced the arrival of its new fleet of mobile library vans, complete with fleet van insurance, by proudly making the claim, "Our mobile libraries cater for everyone."

It's a fine sentiment and an enviable boast; however, it turns out that it may not be true. Why? Well, because, according to union Unison, Carmarthenshire has "put the car before the horse" by failing to consider that some people simply can't fit into the vans, including members of the council's own library staff. It sounds like a tall story (please excuse the pun) but it is all too true for stooping library staff.

So, as it stands (the last pun, we promise), the council has purchased fleet van insurance to cater for employees who, although not unusually tall, are tall enough to be unable to fit into the library vans without uncomfortably stooping.

Quite simply it is not much good being able to use the library if you risk hitting your head or, in the case of staff, being forced to stoop so often that they could develop a back injury caused by improper posture.

According to Mark Evans, branch secretary of Unison in the Carmarthenshire, taller mobile library staff have found it difficult to assist the public because of their difficulty squeezing into the limited standing room available.

It is undoubtedly an embarrassment to the council. However, this has not prevented it from claiming the problem lies with staff being "too tall" rather than any failure to properly plan in advance for taller members of staff.

As Unison have stated, "If vans with sufficient headroom had been purchased our member would not be ‘too tall'. Employees were not consulted before the vans were purchased and they were only shown the new vans two weeks before they were due to be deployed. At this time, it was pointed out that the head height was too low."

Unison has further expressed its incredulity that the council hasn't taken steps to purchase another, taller, van together with additional fleet van insurance so that taller members of staff can work both safely and comfortably.

In the meantime, its member has "suffered a lot of stress and anxiety as a result of someone's mistake". It has also been noted that the tallest member could claim that they are being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their height.

In the meantime, though, the fleet of mobile library vans are apparently doing a good job in bringing books and other library services to rural communities, while the council says that it is working "closely with the member of staff, and union representatives, to resolve any issues."