Fri 18 Sep, 2015

Lorna Ross

Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch
This article originally appeared as a letter to the Courier on 17 September 2015.

Many of us know that 16 of our libraries in Fife, out of a total of 51, are under threat.

Until I attended a meeting in Markinch last Monday, I didn’t realise that they are also being run incompetently. The representative from Fife Cultural Trust told us that he had only just discovered that mobile libraries have been calling in his street for years. If he, as someone involved in running our libraries, was not aware of the routes of the mobile fleet, how are we as potential users supposed to know? No wonder that units have been stopping in certain towns and villages for years without a single customer.

As a long-term Green Party member I am determined to keep our libraries open – many unemployed people use their local library for job-seeking and to use internet services – but I am also challenging Fife Council to properly manage and fully utilise our fleet of mobile libraries. The assertion that the cultural trust can reduce their number from three to two, but still run them more efficiently, is clearly absurd.

Unemployed people who use the libraries at Glenwood, Pitteuchar, Markinch and Falkland would, under the trust’s plans, have to pay from £2.50 to £5.60 return fares to get to the overcrowded facilities at the Kingdom Centre. Many would have to do that most weekdays to meet Westminster Government Jobseeker requirements. That is not the way to help people get jobs. That is the way to punish people for the “crime” of being unemployed in more rural areas.

At the very least, if they persevere with their decision to close 16 of our libraries, they must ensure that our mobile libraries offer adequate internet access to both job seekers and people who face particular difficulties.

At the time of writing, Lorna is a Green candidate in the Glenrothes West & Kinglassie council byelection

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