Possible reprieve on library closure ruling

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It emerged last week that a further review of the decision to close the libraries had been set for early in the new year.

Around a dozen councillors have asked that the matter be formally ‘called in’ for additional discussion on January 5 by Fife Council’s education, health and social care scrutiny committee.

Under the process, councillors can refer certain decisions by the executive committee to the scrutiny committee for extra debate.

The executive committee agreed earlier this month to the plan proposed by Fife Cultural Trust (FCT), which runs the library service on the council’s behalf.

A quarter of the libraries affected by the closure plans are in Glenrothes.

FCT was initially looking at trying to save over £800,000 and put forward proposals for a ‘hub and spoke’ model for the network, which it hoped would be more cost-effective and deliver services which would be fit for purpose and sustainable for years to come.

FCT had asked local communities to suggest alternrative delivery models – but the call-in request, instigated by Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Tim Brett, indicated the council should be taking the lead over alternatives.

Members also highlighted the difficulty many library users would have in accessing whatever alternative plans may be in place, while some of the communities affected were already deprived and would suffer yet more disadvantage.

It was thought FCT and council officers should make more details available about alternative facilities and how they would be delivered before closures took effect.

Stuat Cross, chairman of FCT’s board, indicated major changes to the service were needed now, rather than enduring possible cuts and growing uncertainty in the future, while FCT would support the council as it liaised with communities.