Last-ditch pleas to save 16 Fife libraries from the axe have failed.
Councillors on Fife Council’s executive committee have voted to back Fife Cultural Trust’s controversial proposals to close libraries across the kingdom to help find savings of £813,000.
Most of those affected will be closed by April 1, unless communities come up with viable alternatve plans to keep services running.
Those interested would have to notify the council before Christmas, and their options must be run on a voluntary basis at no cost to the trust.
More than 25 full-time equivalent library staff will lose their jobs in the first half of next year, 15 of them frontline workers, as a direct result of the decision.
Council leader David Ross said members had no choice but to vote for closure, predicting the local authority was about to find itself in a “horrendous” financial position of a scale never before experienced when finance minister John Swinney makes his budget announcement later this month.
He added that the school library service would be maintained and the mobile library service enhanced and re-routed to mitigate the effect of the closures.
Public access computers used in each of the affected libraries will be moved to alternative community buildings so they are not lost to locals.
Campaigners hoping to persuade councillors ditch the plans reacted to the decision with disappointment.
Bryce Sutherland from Markinch said he was “absolutely gutted”.
“I had my fingers crossed for a different outcome,” he said.“This is going to have a very negative impact on so many people.”
The libraries which will close are Abbeyview, Bowhill, Colinsburgh, Crail, Crossgates, East Wemyss, Falkland, Freuchie, Glenwood, Kinghorn, Lundin Links, Markinch, Pittenweem, Pitteuchar, Thornton and Townhill.
Councillors voted by 11 votes to eight, with all Labour and independent members voting for the closures.
For full coverage and reaction, see Wednesday’s Courier. And see below for updates from the meeting as it happened: