North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins has called for greater transparency in the process which led to Tuesday’s “devastating” decision to close 16 libraries across Fife.
In letters to both Steve Grimmond, the chief executive of Fife Council, and council leader David Ross, SNP MP Gethins said the local authority should reconsider the decision taken by the Labour-led Council executive committee to close libraries in April next year – six of them in his North East Fife constituency.
Mr Gethins said: “This is a situation which has devastated communities; I think the Council needs to reconsider and be much more open about the process which led to this devastating decision. Since the committee met on Tuesday I have heard from many constituents and the campaign groups and everyone is saying the same thing, they the impact on local communities will be immense.
“I have offered to meet Mr Grimmond and Councillor Ross to see if we can look at this again. I have also asked for all Equality Impact Assessments for each closure-threatened library so we can examine these documents. I also think it’s appropriate to call this matter back in to the Scrutiny Committee.
“The council had dealt these communities a terrible blow and then given those who have indicated interest only until Christmas to work up an initial plan for running their own libraries and then March for a final plan. This places enormous pressure on people and I will be doing what I can to help my constituents look at their options over the next few weeks.”
Fife Council’s decision to close the libraries – in Abbeyview, Bowhill, Colinsburgh, Crail, Crossgates, East Wemyss, Falkland, Freuchie, Glenwood, Lundin Links, Markinch, Pittenweem, Pitteuchar, Thornton, and Kinghorn – next spring, came after after a major consultation exercise which saw thousands of people responding and four petitions against closures received.
Although a survey showed opinion was fairly even split on the proposal overall, 61 per cent of library users disagreed with the plan.