East Dunbartonshire LibDem MP Jo Swinson in library cuts row with SNP

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East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson has blamed the Scottish Government for the threat to local libraries.

But the LibDem MP has been accused of “hypocrisy” by Strathkelvin and Bearsden SNP MSP Rona Mackay.

People reacted with fury after ED Leisure and Culture (EDLC), an arms-length body of East Dunbartonshire Council, recently voted by 5-2 to shut libraries at Westerton, Lenzie and Milton of Campsie to cut costs. LibDem Councillor Susan Murray was the only councillor of five on the board of EDLC to support the closures.

Ms Swinson said: “Libraries are an important part of the communities they serve, and it is understandable residents are concerned about the proposed closures. The Scottish Government’s funding decisions have left the council with a multi-million pound black hole in the budget, so the board of EDLC continues to face difficult decisions to balance its books and deliver quality services.

“Nonetheless, residents deserve a full explanation for any potential library closures, and I hope that EDLC will take on board and respond to the concerns of local residents and library professionals.”

But Ms Mackay responded: “This is shameless hypocrisy from the Lib Dems. Their councillors are closing three libraries to save £85,000, while their MP is trying to point the finger elsewhere. The two main concerns of people in Strathkelvin and Bearsden are the implications of the current Brexit mess, and the closure of our libraries.

“I’ve made my position clear that I support the three libraries remaining open – even with limited opening hours. Jo Swinson should back the SNP and stop her group of councillors from closing them but I won’t hold my breath. This hopeless Lib Dem/Tory administration is driving through massive cuts to local services without any thought to what people want.

“In 2018-19, East Dunbartonshire’s Revenue Settlement from the Scottish Government was £184.2m, in cash terms, a 2% increase on the 2017-18 Revenue settlement. There is no multi-million pound black hole in funding as claimed by Ms Swinson.

“The SNP will continue to invest in the region and fight to keep our libraries open.”