The debate over the possible closure of four Glenrothes libraries has intensified with the town’s councillors failing to agree with campaigners fighting to retain the services.
There were heated exchanges at Wednesday’s Glenrothes area committee when it was asked to agree that the four closures - part of 16 proposed by Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) across the region as part of £800,000 of budget savings being demanded by Fife council - were disproportionate for the town.
The question, submitted by Leslie Bain of the Save Glenwod Library Campaign also called on the committee to agree that the closure proposal was “wrong” - and that the possible use of Rothes Halls as a hub for the town made “no sense”.
But a motion to agree put forward by councillors John Beare and Craig Walker was overturned in favour of Cllr Altany Craik’s amendment to simply support saving as many Glenrothes libraries as possible, but to take no view on the Glenwood closure or the Rothes Hall proposal.
The decision drew criticism from SNP councillors who accused Labour and independent colleagues of effectively supporting closures.
“I was utterly appalled to find them essentially refusing to answer whether they were for or against closing Glenwood Library - a library which is in their ward,” Cllr Julie Ford told the Gazette.
Cllr Craig Walker added: “I am very surprised that having allowed Mr Bain’s question to be included, the chairman then chose to back an amendment which ensured the question wasn’t answered.
“Glenwood Library is a vital service to its community and it’s extremely disappointing that we couldn’t speak with a unified voice opposing it’s threatened closure.”
But committee chairman Cllr Bill Brown refuted the claim saying that opposition councillors will always blame the administration for any cuts or closures.
“I do not believe that any councillor in Glenrothes wants any library in their area to close,” said Cllr Brown.
“I am totally against Glenwood Library being closed and that has been my position from day one. I have spoken against the closure on numerous occasions including at scrutiny committee.
“The Labour administration needs to reduce spending across the council because of a £77 million shortfall.”
Cllr Craik added: “The public consultation regarding FCT’s proposal is now closed and we must await the findings of that when it comes back to the council.
“Therefore these questions are premature, it is the wrong time and the wrong place, I therefore think it’s inappropriate to take a view at this stage.”
Mr Bain, who tabled the question, criticised Cllr Brown’s handling of the debate calling it a “farce” adding that he was “deeply disappointed” by the failure of the committee to unanimously agree to support the Glenwood campaign.