Plans to close libraries across Fife have been put on hold for further consultation.
Fife Council’s executive committee agreed a joint motion that gave the green light to a “full and formal consultation” to be carried out with communities affected by the proposed closures.
Alternative delivery models and funding options will also be explored with the council’s cultural services arm, Fife Cultural Trust.
Libraries earmarked for the axe in this financial year Glenwood, Markinch, Pitteuchar, Thornton and Kinghorn have been saved meantime with funding committed from council reserves while the consultation is carried out.
The meeting of the executive committee got off to a heated start when scrutiny committee chairperson Susan Leslie said she was “appalled” by the way council officers had handled the process so far.
She said Fife Cultural Trust had been “let down” and that, since April last year, the scrutiny committee had been asking for information on how a proposed new “hub and spoke” model for the network would operate.
She said officers had failed to bring forward a report and said there had been a “total disregard” of the scrutiny process until now.
The head of economy, planning and employability services, Robin Presswood, said the current financial climate in which the council is tackling a budget black hole of £77 million meant “painful decisions” are inevitable across services and council officers presented such reports “with a heavy heart”.
Whilst the trust has already delivered £906,000 of savings, a total of £813,000 remains to be delivered.
The proposals, put forward by Fife Cultural Trust would mean the closure over three years of Abbeyview, Bowhill, Colinsburgh, Crail, Crossgates, East Wemyss, Falkland, Freuchie, Thornton, Glenwood, Kinghorn, Lundin Links, Markinch, Pittenweem, Pitteuchar and Townhill libraries.
A total of 25 jobs would be lost.
But since the trust announced its plans last week, communities have condemned the proposals. The cuts will hit the youngest, oldest and those in rural areas hardest, it has been claimed.
A report on the consultations will be brought back to the executive committee on September 29.