Library closures in East Dunbartonshire: MSP joins growing protests against EDLC decision

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Local MSP Rona Mackay and Campsie councillor Paul Ferretti have joined the growing protests against the decision by East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust to close three libraries in Lenzie, Milton of Campsie (Craighead) and Westerton.

Councillor Ferretti revealed that the closure of Craighead Library will mean some vulnerable constituents will have to walk to Lennoxtown or Kirkintilloch to update their claims.

Ms Mackay told the Herald she has written to the Head of Leisure Trust Mark Grant and Chief Executive to ask why and how the decision was reached and what the next step in the process is.

She has also written to the Chief Executive of East Dunbartonshire Council to ask what their role is in the closures and if this decision can be vetoed.

Ms Mackay said: “I am shocked and angry at this decision. Public libraries are a vital part of the community and provide a necessary facility.

“To close libraries at a time when we are encouraging children to read more and more people will need to access them to use the internet to claim Universal Credit benefits, is simply madness.

The SNP group’s members on the Trust, Councillor Gillian Renwick and Councillor Jim Gibbons voted against the closures, but were voted down. They then put up an amendment by way of compromise to suggest reduced opening hours, but this was again voted down by opposition Councillors and lay board members.

“This is a disgrace. I will do everything in my power to keep these libraries open and to persuade the Leisure Trust to think again.”

Councillor Ferretti said: “I am deeply disappointed that EDLC has elected to close Craighead Library.

“The library is a valued asset, not only for books, but for the other facilities that it provides. A pertinent example of the impact that this

closure could have is that due to the rural nature Milton of Campsie, residents who do not have access to the internet at home, and who are on

Universal Credit, will now either have to walk or take a bus to Lennoxtown or Kirkintilloch to update their claims.

“I will not be supporting any proposal that leads to the permanent closure of this facility.”

Three libraries are being threatened with closure in East Dunbartonshire – and jobs placed at risk.

The board of the cultural arm of East Dunbartonshire Council voted by 5-2 last night to shut Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton libraries as part of cost-cutting plans.

There are five councillors within the 11-strong board of ED Leisure and Culture Trust.

Councillor Susan Murray (LibDem) supported the closures, Councillors Gillian Renwick (SNP) and Jim Gibbons (SNP) opposed the closures, Councillor Sheila Mechan (Conservative) abstained and Councillor Stewart MacDonald (Labour) was not at the meeting.

Trade union UNISON and Lenzie councillor Gillian Renwick have reacted angrily to the decision.

The Herald has contacted Councillor Murray to disclose to the public the reasons she supported the closures and we are awaiting her response.