Petitions and public demonstrations as residents campaign against closure of East Dunbartonshire libraries

Residents are organising campaigns against the proposed closure of three East Dunbartonshire libraries.
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Last week, East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust announced its plans to shut public libraries in Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton.

Jamie McGuire is the chairman of Milton of Campsie Community Council. He said: “This morning I was in the bakery with a lot of mums who had just dropped their kids off at school. They did not have a single kind word for the council.”

Mr McGuire is distributing petitions to local businesses in the village, and has plans to  create an online version. He is also organising public demonstrations.

He added: “We are being targeted because of the footfall in the library but we’re a small rural community. The library is well used by locals but there is no chance we can compete with the bigger towns in East Dunbartonshire.”

Mr McGuire said he felt that financial contributions from property developers building houses in the village should be used to keep the library open.

“CALA Homes alone have donated £60,000 to the council but this has gone into a central reserve. The village didn’t see any of that money but it could have been used to maintain our public services,” he added.

Milton of Campsie Community Council held its monthly meeting on Monday, just days after news emerged of the planned library closures.

Mr McGuire said: “That was a heated meeting.  Community councillors and members of the public tore into the council.”

Copies of Milton of Campsie Community Council’s petition can be found at the Co-Operative , Scotmid , Gentleman’s Barbers , the Village Bakery , the post office , chemist , village hall and Craighead Primary School.

East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust is a council-owned organisation, which operates cultural services including libraries.  Its board voted to close the three village libraries as part of cost-saving efforts across the authority area.

Councillor Susan Murray (LibDem, Kirkintilloch East and North and Twechar) is a member of the trust’s board and voted in favour of the library closures.

She recently told the Kirkintilloch Herald: “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.”

A full meeting of East Dunbartonshire Council will take place at its Kirkintilloch headquarters on Thursday, November 15.

Neil McGrory , Local Democracy Reporting Service