The Herald asked East Dunbartonshire councillor Susan Murray (LibDem Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar) to explain to the public why she supports the closure of three local libraries.
ED Leisure and Culture (EDLC), the arms-length organisation funded and supported by East Dunbartonshire Council, voted by 5-2 last week to shut libraries at Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton as part of cost-cutting measures, which will also put jobs at risk.
This proposal will now go forward to a meeting of the council, probably later this month.
There are five councillors within the 11-strong board of EDLC. Councillor Susan Murray (LibDem) supported the closures; Councillors Gillian Renwick (SNP) and Jim Gibbons (SNP) opposed them, Councillor Sheila Mechan (Conservative) abstained and Councillor Stewart MacDonald (Labour) was not at the meeting.
Here is Councillor Murray’s full statement to the Herald.
“I stood for election to make sure the Council listened to the community; I believe Councillors should put aside party
politics and do the very best with the money available for the people of
“Last year the Council had to make the biggest savings of any single year because of the SNP Scottish Government cuts. This downward trend goes on in the context of increasing demand for social care and social housing.
“It is clear why the minority SNP Council Administration resigned. It is easier to be in ‘opposition’ than to work with others to find solutions.
“Their priority is their national agenda.
“The future of East Dunbartonshire Libraries is a good news story.
“I strongly support the Sport and Cultural activities that EDLC delivers for our communities. They are vital for our health and wellbeing and hugely beneficial for the community, especially those most in need.
“When ‘every penny counts’ and funding is shrinking, EDLC has to listen to their customers and give value for money. This has resulted in a big
investment in East Dunbartonshire Libraries and has changed how the service is delivered in modern, flexible surroundings linked to the Council Hubs.
“More people, of all ages and backgrounds, are choosing these libraries and this safeguards the future of library services.
“The smaller libraries are not so well used. They have not been deliberately ‘run down’ - their stock has been regularly changed and kept up to date.
“They are simply not able to deliver the level of service that most people want - and people are voting with their feet.
“Despite the huge increase in home ownership in the area, Lenzie library use continues to fall.
“However, I know that for the people who are still using these libraries this will be a sad loss in their local area and another casualty of the squeeze on local authority funding.
“EDLC is forced to operate with continuing cuts to funding. This means there are difficult choices. I see politicians who think that if they
shout loudly money will simply appear. They never say from where. They don’t give any alternative. They take no responsibility.
“As a Director of EDLC I am legally obliged to make sure that the organisation is sustainable.
“I welcome the updating and investment in our libraries in Kirkintilloch, Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and Lennoxtown - with Milngavie to follow soon.
“Both EDLC and the Council are important employers in East Dunbartonshire and I will do everything I can to keep these jobs.
“Our employees are valued and do an excellent job providing services and support for our community.”