Cuts to Kirkintilloch library slammed as “disgusting” by campaigners

Campaigners Protesting outside William Patrick Library against plans to create a community hub at the Library.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 4th June 2012.
Campaigners Protesting outside William Patrick Library against plans to create a community hub at the Library.'Photo by Paul Mc Sherry 4th June 2012.

A LIBRARY fit for the future – that’s the vision for council chiefs who are transforming William Patrick Library.

However, protestors say the Kirkintilloch library is being ruined.

They have hit out at claims that an ‘outright majority’ of residents are in favour of controversial community hub plans.

East Dunbartonshire Council told people attending a focus group meeting about changes to Kirkintilloch’s William Patrick Library that 53 per cent of residents were in favour of the idea of the hubs during a ‘stakeholder engagement programme’ in 2011.

However, residents fighting to stop a community hub from being built on the ground floor of the library say the figure is not an ‘outright majority’, and claim people knew nothing about the hub plans until they were revealed in the Herald.

Melanie Brickley, spokesperson for the campaigners, said: “This is a disgusting cut to the busiest library branch in the authority. It is unacceptable.

“The council says there has been a drop in visitor numbers, but the removal of the mobile library and the reduction in opening hours have caused this fall-off.”

She added: “The William Patrick Library embodies our cultural identity, history and heritage, and is a source of civic pride. We are asking the council to locate the community hub elsewhere.”

The ground floor of the library was closed on Sunday, June 3, for 12 weeks to allow construction work to begin on the hub, which will be a one-stop-shop for a range of council services.

More than 1,400 people have signed a petition against the plans.

East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “A community hub is a one-stop-shop providing the community with the opportunity to access a range of services on a face-to-face basis under one roof.

“This approach has been taken in many other council areas with positive feedback from members of the public.

“However, a strong message that’s coming to me is that members of the public are not clear about what the proposals are for the community hub in Kirkintilloch.

“In my own experience when I’ve spoken with community councils or individual residents and explained what we are doing with the hub they are supportive.”

She continued: “During our extensive stakeholder consultation exercise in August, September and October of 2011, we asked people if the council should establish community hubs and the results showed that a majority of respondents, 53 per cent, supported the concept, with 22 per cent disagreeing and 24 per cent not sure.

“Figures for the last five years collated and audited by Audit Scotland on behalf of the Accounts Commission, not the council, have shown that library visits per head of population in East Dunbartonshire have been consistently well below the Scottish average, even before the mobile library service was removed and library hours changed.

“We are creating a sustainable library fit for purpose in the 21st century that reinforces books provision and information as a core part of the library service, and embraces new technology to encourage people of all ages and all backgrounds to use the library.”

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