Warning over ‘libraries to close’ threat

Peter Grant (right), with fellow Glenrothes Councillor Ross Vettraino, outside Thornton Library which he says could be in line for closure once again if further cuts  are imposed.
Peter Grant (right), with fellow Glenrothes Councillor Ross Vettraino, outside Thornton Library which he says could be in line for closure once again if further cuts are imposed.

A Glenrothes councillor is warning of a public backlash if libraries in the town are forced to close due to impending budget cuts.

Cllr Peter Grant claims Labour councillors admitted last week that it was “inevitable” that some libraries would close as a result of budget cuts faced by Fife Cultural Trust.

“In their first full budget back in 2013 Labour and their allies voted to cut a total of £3 million from the Cultural Trust’s budget over three years,” Mr Grant told the Gazette.

“They made promises about keeping facilities open but refused to publish the advice they had received from council officers about the true impact of the cuts, a refusal that was overturned after I won a Freedom of Information case against them.

“Now they’ve admitted that libraries are indeed going to close but we won’t know which ones until March.”

Cllr Grant fears Pitteuchar and Thornton libraries, which were lined up for closure in 2007 along with East Weymss and Colinsburgh, could once again be earmarked for closure.

The SNP later overturned the closure proposals when they came to power in 2007.

But the claims have been refuted by Gavin Yates, community health and wellbeing spokesman.

He said: “Fife Cultural Trust is working on proposals to provide sustainable services to communities in Fife and will bring forward its plans on libraries and other services in due course.

“The SNP know that their friends in Edinburgh have taken over £100m from Fife over the course of this electoral term leaving the Council with huge funding challenges in every aspect of life for Fifers.

“The Trust has managed to deliver savings already and I am confident whatever it brings forward will have the best interests of providing quality services at its heart.”

Trust makes savings but there is still more to do

In a report by Robin Presswood, head of economy, planning and employability services to councillors this month, he confirmed that Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) had so far delivered £906,000 of savings from the £1.485m Fife Council had required over 2013/14 and 2014/15.

A further £819,000 would now be delivered in 2017/18.

Negotiations between Fife Council and FCT are ongoing with programmes to achieve the savings is still to be agreed.

FCT’s annual report confirmed that there had been a year-on-year reduction in the number of people using Glenrothes libraries from 233,444 in 2010/11 to 189,937 in 2013/14.