Letters to the editor – Library, plea for help over death and gala day thanks

Author Theresa Breslin is pictured at a protest at the library
Author Theresa Breslin is pictured at a protest at the library

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

Betrayal of democracy

ON the evening of Thursday, June 28, East Dunbartonshire Council refused to discuss a motion to halt the plans for the William Patrick Library.

Five members of the campaign group arrived in the council chamber before the meeting began. As there was no note of the motion on the agenda for the meeting, we requested one councillor to enquire on our behalf.

He relayed the message back that the motion was too late as they needed 10 days notice. We pointed out that our application was logged into civic HQ on June 15.

They then said it would have had to come via a councillor. We pointed out that the application had been sent to every councillor. They refused to accept it. We asked for an emergency motion.

That was turned down.

We can accept that people have different opinions on a subject, but to refuse to allow a debate when there has been an official complaint, a petition, a public protest, very many letters and e-mails to the council and each councillor individually and the local newspaper, with features on the subject in the local newspaper, and with such obvious and vocal objection to these plans, is a betrayal of democracy.

At the formal start of the council meeting, when it was clear that the council had no intention of allowing the people of Kirkintilloch a say in what was happening in their town, the campaign group stood up, took off their jackets, under which they were wearing William Patrick t-shirts, and called out “shame” to their councillors. The campaign group then left the meeting.

Many questions remain unanswered. The public have a right to answers.

There is serious concern over the nature of the use of panic-button-fitted-for-staff “Customer Services Rooms” in an open plan area, shared by a public library used by children.

Their location and that of “shared waiting space”, including the café – which is in effect a through route to the stock – separating the stock from the library reception desk, is considered totally inappropriate.

More and more people are coming forward to the campaign group to see what can be done to have that part of the hub removed, and for the library to reclaim the previously fully-utilised space taken from it.

The children’s area is now limited, with reduction in the number and range of children’s books and audience numbers for events. There are 12 primary and three secondary schools plus nurseries in this area whose pupils use this facility.

The ombudsman has been contacted. It’s absolutely shocking that no proper reply has been made to any of the correspondence sent to East Dunbartonshire Council by the campaign group.

An indication of the intention to discuss this at a sub-committee in August AFTER the work has been completed shows a complete lack of respect for the public who voted them into power.

Theresa Breslin, author

Melanie Brickley

Alice MacKenzie MBE

May McNair

Myra Scott

Jean Watson

Facts not fiction

I REFER to statements made by Cllr Geekie (Herald, June 20/27) and to the council’s two-page advertisement feature (Herald, June 20). Our council appears to think that repeating inaccuracies makes them true! Here are some facts.

FACT: 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 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 per cent.

FACT: The council ARE reducing the size of the library. The council admits to 10 per cent, 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: Materials have been removed from the library basement and this requires rigorous investigation

FACT: Public consultation at no time mentioned using 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 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. William Patrick has no Wi-Fi access, although 19 other authorities in Scotland do. (Ref: Public Library Statistics 2010-11)

There are no professionally-qualified frontline staff in any library in East Dunbartonshire.

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. There was no opportunity for input or to discuss the impact on the community.

FACT: The IBP report of December 2, 2011, shows less than 50 per cent of respondents agreed with the concept of a hub (in fact 47 per cent).

FACT: The plans for the community hub were only printed in the Herald on May 23 AFTER the local elections, less than two weeks before closure! Arrangements were already in place for the adaptations.

FACT: 12 New posts (not library posts) have been created and interviews have already taken place.

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. Outlying areas such as Waterside and Twechar as well as primary schools, previously served by the mobile, have little or no service.

In view of the above and the rising number of objections to these plans the council should have set aside party politics and voted to halt this work at their meeting on June 28. Sadly this did not happen despite every councillor being lettered and e-mailed well in advance.

William Patrick Library has been hijacked by the council, the staff and readers have been treated with the utmost disrespect and the changes pushed through by stealth.

Whatever happens in the future, whatever spin the council puts forward, whatever the ombudsman reports, all trust in the council has been lost!

Tom Breslin.

Gala thanks

AS chairman of Kirkintilloch Community Council I would like to thank the following for their contribution to this year’s Gala:

The Gala Queen, her attendants, staff and parents of Oxgang Primary School, Hillhead Church, Kelvin Brass, Billy Poynton, The ACTS Group, St Andrews Ambulance Association, Strathclyde Police, Kirkintilloch Pipe Band, East Dunbartonshire Council, Rosebank School of Dancing, Tantra, Pro Bowl, Co-operative Services, AMK Van Hire, the Regent Centre, Tesco, Kenwil Print and Design, Kirkintilloch High School, Park Centre, St Ninnan‘s Church and the Olympians.

On a personal note, I would like to thank the Herald for their support and coverage of the Gala, and all members of the community council who gave of their time, talents and commitment in organising this years Gala.

Fraser McKay,

Chairman,

Kirkintilloch Community Council.

Plea for info

I WONDER if any of your readers can help me find out more about a drowning at the reservoir at Lennoxtown on August 21, 1921?

The fatality – Andrew Dickson – was the brother of my great-grandfather.

Andrew was a water superintendent who lived at a house or cottage called Heathery Knowe close to the reservoir, and drowned on his 56th birthday. The reservoir is near to the third hole of what is now the Campsie Golf Course – that hole, I believe, known to this day as Heathery Knowe. This much I have gleaned from the very helpful secretary of the club, although he has been unable to find any member with knowledge of the tragedy.

I would also be interested in hearing any information about the farm of Merkland at Waterside, where my great-great-grandfather James Dickson farmed for several years around the turn of the century until the mid-1900s, before moving to the Scottish Borders where I now live. I’ve visited the general area around Merkland and noticed there has been some sort of religious order residing there at some intervening period.

Any information or even copies of old photographs would be most welcome.

Malcolm R. Dickson

Minto Glen, by Minto, Roxburghshire, TD9 8SH.

babamakame@aol.com

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