Letters to the Editor – June 27, 2012 – fury over Kirkintilloch library

editorial image

Council has lost people’s respect

THE recently published two-page spread by East Dunbartonshire Council on the proposed library community hub does little to allay the fears of the general public as to the reduction and desecration of what was an excellent library.

The trouble is that the council has lost all the respect of the people of Kirkintilloch.

No one in the town has a good word to say for this elected body any more.

You are supposed to be representing our wishes, what we want for our town: and it’s not a mixed-up, hotch-potch of small offices invading a first class lending library, the envy of many other towns.

You say you are only reducing the library space by 10 per cent, which is blatantly untrue if you look at the plans.

It is at least 50 per cent. You say it will ‘look and feel larger due to a more effective use of space’. That is just ridiculous and is an insult to the intelligence of the Herald readers.

The café is situated in a through passage between two halves of the space – where is the chance to relax over a cuppa with people constantly going backwards and forwards past your table?

There is no other access to the books and what people on wheelchairs or mothers with buggies will manage to do is incomprehensible.

You say we will have a new library ‘fit-for-purpose’. That is just what it will not be.

Formerly the children were tucked securely into a purpose built area, now they are open to anyone passing by – not in their own space at all, which children really value.

The whole plan has been ill-conceived and rushed through without the library staff being able to voice their opinions.

They were gagged from speaking about it on pain of losing their jobs, and to add insult to injury the council representatives who will be manning this ‘hub’ are to be paid considerably more than the qualified library assistants.

If you must have a community hub, which I have yet to find anyone except council employees in favour of, use any of the unsightly empty properties in the centre of the town. (There is even the St Ninian’s hall now available to rent!)

There is a full meeting of the council on June 28.

Make sure you put it to the meeting that all the building should be stopped and time given for all the issues to be reconsidered – if you don’t want a public fiasco to hit the national headlines reminiscent of the Edinburgh trams disaster.

Name and Address Supplied.

Generous intentions

IT was good to see the fine turnout protesting at the proposed improper use of the William Patrick Library, donated and funded by David Patrick, Town Clerk.

However, as a native of the town, it is depressing to me to think that for many of us this is the second time in our lives we have seen the generous intentions of a public benefactor being thwarted.

The first was Miss Hutchison’s leaving Regent Gardens to be an open space in the middle of the town.

This was rescued after much public protest and a packed public meeting, but another condition of the bequest was not given effect to.

By chance, I was in the town hall, standing behind two girls of about 14 years of age, who were looking at a photo of the gardens on display.

Obviously knowing the attempts to undo the bequest, one said to the other, “It will keep others from leaving anything to the town.”

You don’t need a law or any other degree to get the message.

Norman Thornburn,

Parkhead Court,

Dumfries.

Lessons to be learned

I REFER to the controversy concerning the redevelopment of the William Patrick Library, which has been featuring prominently in the columns of the Kirkintilloch Herald in recent weeks.

When the situation has been reached where some 1,400 people have signed a petition against the plans, one could be forgiven for concluding that the council might have thought fit to pause for reflection on how it has handled this matter and what lessons might be derived from the occasioning of such public dissatisfaction.

It certainly occurs to me that, rather than relying upon the limited results of the stakeholder consultation exercise of 2011, (one wonders, incidentally how much that process cost the East Dunbartonshire residents), a detailed survey should have been made of the actual users of the William Patrick Library to determine their views on the proposed changes.

It strikes me as somewhat perverse that users’ views are now being asked for in relation to those changes as your edition of last week reported (Have a say).

The William Patrick Library has been an outstanding asset, much valued by local residents, which has contributed much to the educational and leisure pursuits of the local population over many years.

Rather than embarking on extensive re-arrangement of that facility, one has to wonder whether or not the council fully analysed all the options available in the centre of Kirkintilloch for the creation of this hub.

Given that the adverse reaction, both in relation to the consultative process and the actual works, has been so marked, surely the council must, upon reflection, realise that they could have handled the matter much better.

Ian W Thomson,

Kirkintilloch Road,

Lenzie.

Misjudged electorate’s views

I AM not one for writing to newspapers, but I believe that our council has totally misjudged the views of the electorate on the issue of placing the HUB within the William Patrick Library.

There is a figure bandied about that 53 per cent of people are in favour of a HUB. That may be correct, but how many who were in favour were advised that it would be located within the Library? I for one was not!

I supported the principle of a HUB, but am totally against the proposed location. This is one case of statistics being made to support anything.

The second example of arithmetical juggling is the statement that the library will see only a 10 per cent reduction.

In what I ask? Most assuredly not area, perhaps it’s the total shelving.

More shelving, less free space, more congestion, less enjoyment, less usage and finally, reason for closure. Is this the end game?

I just wish the council would explain why the headlong rush to complete the destruction of the library.

The final plans were only recently released to the public. The relevant contracts would have had to be in place at or before the time these plans were released.

To me it appears to be a case of get it underway so that they can make a case for not stopping it, as it would have a cost implication. Why?

There is no desperate urgency to have the HUB up and running as the services it will provide are currently available. So again, why the urgency.

Finally, I just wish the council applied the same degree of haste across all areas of their responsibilities as they are applying here with the HUB.

William Clelland

(via e-mail)

Annoyed at library move

I WOULD like to express my disgust and annoyance at the way our library is being treated by the councillors who are paid to work on behalf of the people of Kirkintilloch.

In this age of austerity they are wasting £500,000 of our money to destroy our library by reducing its size and making it less user friendly.

As several others have already mentioned, this “HUB” could have been created in one of many empty shops in our soulless town centre.

Instead, they have closed the library when children and students would be utilising it during the summer months.

Name and address supplied.

(Via e-mail)

Project kept under wraps

AS the writer of the first letter to be published recently on the subject of William Patrick Library, I have found myself being congratulated by the most amazing variety of people for expressing my view on this vandalisation of our library.

First of all, I am very angry at the sneaky way the whole project was kept under wraps until after the local elections.

I now keep reading statements from the council, and from council chief executive Gerry Cornes. It is just a pity that these statements were not available before the elections.

Of course, they knew exactly how local people would feel about such an act of vandalism inflicted upon a very well-loved building - so they kept it in the dark.

Was the date of the announcement of this retrograde development said in whispers behind closed doors?

I repeat again - we all, as ratepayers, know that East Dunbartonshire Council is short of money, we have been told often enough, but this attack on the William Patrick Library - and it is an attack - is totally unjustified.

I have studied the ‘plan’ for the future ground floor, which shows all ‘departments’ crammed together irrespective of relationships with each other. To say that I am not impressed with this layout is to put it mildly, and the quality of the ‘plan’ leaves much to be desired. It should have been on display within the library long ago, to allow regular users to comment.

The council may win the battle of the library alterations, but should consider, and think deeply, on the respect and trust which has been sacrificed along the way.

Nancy Stewart,

Sycamore Avenue, Lenzie.

Fact Not Fiction – Kirkintilloch Community Hub

I REFER to statements made by Cllr Geekie and the Council’s two page advertisement feature (K/T Herald 20th June)

FACT: The William Patrick Library is a bequest to the Community of Kirkintilloch of which the Council are Trustees. The Community are entitled to written public notice of the legal documentation which allows for the use of the building for other purposes.

FACT: The Council ARE cutting library provision. Shelving is considerably reduced. The Council’s own estimate of stock reduction is 15%.

FACT: The Council ARE reducing the size of the library. The Council admits to 10% but the plan makes it clear that the ground floor space is being reduced by much more. That it will “look “and “feel” bigger is irrelevant.

FACT: Library Staff were NOT fully consulted and concerns ignored (K/T Herald 20th June)

FACT: Materials HAVE been removed from the Library Basement and this requires rigorous investigation

FACT: Public Consultation at no time mentioned using the William Patrick Library as a HUB

FACT: The Petition Leaders were invited to a meeting to discuss the use of the HUB. It was NOT to discuss the Petition itself or the consensus expressed in it.

FACT: Community HUBS are not being “aggressively dismissed” Serious and valid concerns are being expressed by over 1,500 people (and rising) about the location of the HUB and lack of real consultation.

FACT: Information presented to the public has been lacking in transparency on various points. It has not been revealed that EDC Libraries account for the largest number of Volunteer hours in Scotland, with the exception of Edinburgh City, a vastly bigger authority. (Ref: Public Library Statistics 2010 -11) It is clear the library is starved of salaried staff.

FACT: Library Services within East Dunbartonshire have been progressively and disproportionately targeted for cuts and have not had the investment in updates and modernisation that should have happened. The William Patrick has no Wi-Fi access, although 19 other authorities in Scotland do. (Ref: Public Library Statistics 2010-11)

FACT: The Council have produced a graph which shows East Dunbartonshire’s library visits are below the national average, but fails to point out that MOST library services in other areas are below the national average in library visits. Instead, the Council claim that “library visits have increased in other areas” This statement is very misleading and people are now complaining that they were wrongly influenced by it.

FACT: The Community were NOT consulted on the floor plan for the HUB and Library. The Planning Convenor of Kirkintilloch Community Council, who normally receives a copy of such documents, had no notification of the plans and only learned of them via the Kirkintilloch Herald. There was no opportunity for input or to discuss the impact on the Community.

FACT: The Carnegie Trust Report and other information re the establishing of Community HUBS elsewhere has been used selectively in a way that obscures the whole picture.

FACT: Library services to the elderly and our youth were savagely cut last year and while the use of volunteer labour helps the situation with the former, a large number of our children are being denied the library service to which they are entitled.

In view of the above and the rising number of objections to these plans the Council should set aside party politics and vote to halt this work at their meeting on 28th June 2012.

Tom Breslin

(via e-mail)

Morrisons Masterplan

IN response to the letter in last weeks paper and for anyone that couldn’t make it to the recent presentation of Morrisons Masterplan for Bishopbriggs Town Centre, we have been notified of a posting which has all the details as an eight page PDF and have provided a link on our blog at

http://cleddensresidents.blogspot.com/

We regularly update our blog with news and information regarding the Town Centre development especially in this important stage when the submission of Morrisons’ final plans are thought to be imminent.

Fiona Beveridge

on behalf of Cleddens Residents Group

* Have you got a story, picture or comment? E-mail kirkyherald@jnscotland.co.uk

Alternatively you can call the newsdesk 0141 775 0040, find us on Facebook or visit us on Twitter

Or you can log in below and have you say on the site...