Letters to the Editor – library fall-out, charity under threat and homes plan

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READERS have their say on the issues which matter...

Demand for information

GIVEN that the council continues to make statements RE their plans for the hub which are at odds with other evidence, and also RE library staff involvement (Herald, July 4) which contradicts the union, and continues to refuse to discuss certain services planned for this hub, the Campaign Group are now moving forward on official complaints and requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

1. We intend to lodge an official complaint about East Dunbartonshire Council’s lack of consultation RE the change of use of the William Patrick Library.

2. The William Patrick Library was a bequest. Under the Freedom of Information Act we intend to ask for a copy of the documentation that allows it to be used for a different purpose.

3. Under the Freedom of Information Act we would like to see details of the safety plan for the building.

The people of Kirkintilloch have a right to this information and they are also deserving of consideration with respect to their strongly-held views – a courtesy which has so far been denied them.

Does our council not think it is time for them to communicate in a proper manner with the people who elected them?

Their handling of this situation is attracting national and international attention and bringing them adverse publicity.

Theresa Breslin, author

Melanie Brickley

Alice MacKenzie MBE

May McNair

Myra Scott

Jean Watson

Puzzled over town hall

CALL me cynical, but isn’t it rather strange that after years of the council refusing to do any remedial work on the town hall, they suddenly find the money to save it?

Could this possibly have anything to do with the public outrage over their high-handed approach to hijacking our library – trying to curry favour with the electorate?

I rather think it will take more than that. People are very bitter and we have long memories. Don’t expect forgiveness any time soon.

S. Anderson,

(via e-mail).

Report gave commitment

THIS letter refers to the ‘Betrayal of democracy’ and ‘Facts not fiction’ letters of last week. I write because I too am appalled by the action of the council in its precipitate action of closing the library with minimal notice and its institution of changes in use and in design without due public consultation.

I have before me the report of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) of March 2005 on East Dunbartonshire Council’s closure and blocking up of Milton of Campsie Village Hall.

This report is to me, as leader of the action group who submitted the official complaint to the Ombudsman. This SPSO report slated the council on its lack of public consultation, stating: “Our examination of the information relating to the hall closure has indicated areas such as the consultation process which should, in future, be improved.”

In fact none of the 15 organisations using the hall had been consulted! Nevertheless, the Ombudsman was satisfied with the council’s promise to institute proper consultation procedures.

The SPSO report states: “The council are now taking action in an attempt to improve the consultative processes involved in decision-making. It is hoped that in the future, situations such as this will not arise.”

Well, they have arisen – in regard to the decision to let the town hall deteriorate and be blocked up and now this heinous action on the William Patrick Library.

I note that a complaint has been sent to the SPSO about the lack of consultation by the council on the library. The complainant should refer the Ombudsman to the promise obtained from the council seven years ago.

But they should not be too optimistic about getting a just ruling: there is massive dissatisfaction with the SPSO.

Accountability Scotland is taking up issues such as the council’s decision-making on the library and will refer to this case on its website: www.accountabilityscotland.org.

I personally will be contacting our MSP, Fiona McLeod, about this matter and suggest that further action could be taken via the Scottish Committee of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC).

Dr J Wallace Hinton,

Convener,

Accountability Scotland.

Homes plan in village

READERS may be puzzled why a plan for only nine new houses in Clachan of Campsie is proving so controversial.

There are only six houses around the Square at the moment so nine new identical houses right on the east side of the Square is an enormous increase.

Worse, they are to be built within a walled private estate. Access to them will remove all the shrubbery and trees – making them immediately visible from the Square.

The historic view loved by many readers will be dominated and changed forever by the new development.

That is why we welcome the site visit by our councillors.

Nigel Smith,

Crosshouse Road,

Campsie Glen.

Charity under threat

I AM most concerned at the plight of Cue and Review Recording Service in Bishopbriggs. I have had the support of Cue and Review to run the Bishopbriggs Happiness Club from their premises which has been a great help.

Without the support, the club would have struggled due to a lack of suitable premises within Bishopbriggs. Alastair McPhee is a very committed local resident who has done a lot – not only for the blind and partially-sighted people who receive their recordings, but also for the community.

He has encouraged and supported hundreds of people to gain skills through volunteering or taking part in their projects over the years. Those people gained skills and experience that has helped them to go on to do a variety of jobs.

I would like to know why East Dunbartonshire Council insists that they have empty office space and are going to seize their bank accounts until they pay £16,000 in rates? This has left the charity in such a difficult position that they face closing the doors for good.

My understanding of the situation is Cue and Review Recording Service is a Scottish Charity – SCO18016. It records the Herald (Scotland) and Evening Times daily for blind people.

The charity rent extra space when available from its enterprise arm and have mandatory and discretionary relief from East Dunbartonshire Council for their studios under the same roof.

If you accept that Cue and Review Recording Service is a Scottish charity and they have already been exempted from paying rates on their studio, can the council please explain why they are not allowed to use extra space in their own building?

Can the council explain how other than with the signed leases they already have they are now supposed to provide evidence of the space being used – in some cases five years down the line?

Please explain why you are forcing the charity to pay full rates when no small business in Scotland pays rates.

Rather than discriminating against blind and partially-sighted people why not recognise the work that they can do supporting 450 blind people in East Dunbartonshire and 188,000 visually-impaired Scots by agreeing that they are honest people and supporting them rather than seizing their bank accounts?

Please do not reply that it is the council’s policy to pursue all monies owing to it, which is not what is happening here.

The council is not owed the money in the first place and are in fact racking up debt collector fees on a bill they are not due.

I would like to request how much council tax payers money and council officers’ time has been spent pursuing this completely unfair and unjust action.

I would urge the council to let sense prevail and move to resolve this situation.

The council should be encouraging and supporting organisations like Cue and Review, not pursuing them like criminals.

Kim Macleod,

Meadowburn,

Bishopbriggs.

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