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MICHAEL MARRA: SNP need to come clean on Dundee library closure threat before next week’s election

Michael Marra MSP and Dundee City Council leader John Alexander have clashed over the future of Kirkton Library.
Michael Marra MSP and Dundee City Council leader John Alexander have clashed over the future of Kirkton Library.

It is easy to throw accusations around on social media.

Accusations of lying, for instance, over the SNP plan to close Kirkton Library in Dundee.

Unlike the SNP’s ferry fiasco though – where the paperwork has mysteriously gone missing – we have a paper trail that tells the real story.

The plan to close Kirkton Library and Community Centre was proposed and approved by the SNP administration of Dundee City Council on August 19 2019.

The grandly titled paper ‘Changing for the Future Transformation Programme C2022’ is available on the council website.

At the time the leader of the administration said it was a “bold and ambitious plan”.

In reality, it amounts to no more than the closure of community facilities and the pretence of providing the lost services in local schools instead.

It sounds like cuts to me – and to the many local people who have opposed the closures, signed petitions and appeared in this newspaper to show their opposition.

The policy was restated at committee on September 28 2020.

Again the papers are on the council website.

Kirkton Community Centre and Library.

And a consultation was opened and closed on November 5 2021 (details, again, publicly available on the website).

SNP decisions are impacting on Dundee communities

Local people are rightly outraged and I appeared in The Courier on November 2 2021 saying just that.

So for the leader of the SNP administration to say that no such policy exists is simply bizarre.

When I raised the issue with the First Minister in Holyrood at FMQs she had just been telling Parliament how important libraries were to closing the huge gap in attainment between the richest and the poorest kids in Scotland.

The SNP has just cut attainment funding for Dundee by 79% – the largest cut in Scotland.

With that money goes 100 jobs of people working with the kids who need most support.

National teaching unions have said it “beggars belief”.

A former headteacher in the city has called it “immoral”.

And now the young people of Kirkton must deal with an SNP plan to close their library.

I have never thought the plan to use school facilities during the school day for the public was workable, safe or fair.

If the SNP council have now accepted this and shelved the plan to close Kirkton library and community centre then that is a victory for those local people who campaigned against the closure.

The SNP administration should clear this up ahead of the election on May 5.

Do they still intend to close these facilities in Kirkton, or do they not?

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