NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY
Labour’s Martin Rooney, Provost Douglas McAllister, Cllrs David McBride and Michelle McGinty.
The truth is that there was no consultation about the Balloch Library decision and the chief official who prepared the closure report had only been five minutes in the job and had been employed as a spin doctor until mysteriously emerging in this promoted post. The communication with the public about what was about to happen was non existent.
The official in question could not even answer the basic question as to how many computer terminals there were and would be for the young people who use them for their school work and the teenagers and others who use them to make job applications and to see what employment is available. Newspapers which carry job ads cost can cost more than £2 each.
However, this parcel of rogues unashamedly strutted their stuff in the regenerated – at a cost of £16 million, no less – Burgh Hall in Dumbarton, arrogantly ensuring that the 30 or so members of the public present were made to feel like second class citizens.
Social media and mobile telephones were exceedingly active in Balloch today. Residents of the community around Haldane are raging that West Dunbartonshire Council have come to a decision to close their local library and community hub. It is very clear that they will not forget this when they next go to the polls to vote. Since Provost McAllister refused to allow only two objectors to speak at the meeting I considered I would be doing a public service to report something of what others had to say.
Gillian Bell told Facebook friends that she was “shocked” by what had happened. And by the spin and economy with the truth that spilled from the mouths of officials and members of the Labour Group in a vain attempt to excuse themselves from blame for this appalling decision.
The misinformation and propaganda poured out for nearly two hours was shameful. Balloch Primary was seemingly only running at 69% capacity so the Council believes that there’s more than enough space for the library.
Gillian Bell wrote:”I wonder if this was purely a paper exercise and no one visited the school during a school day, as the 2 schools are struggling for space and already juggling classes like gym and music. Outwith school hours, the library would use other space inside the school for group activities, as it’s a Council building that is available for letting hires. So, who gets priority for this?
“Between Parents Nights for 2 schools and the nursery; 3 Parent Councils running fundraising activities; Haldane Youth Trust running after school activities, etc the school is already well used. They have categorically said from the initial letter in September that the library would be totally separate from the school, so the public wouldn’t go into the school at all.”
It is the public’s view that there is not enough space in the campus to accommodate a library and that the school would not be safe given that men, possibly suspect men, would be mixing with pupils.
Fiona Dickinson wrote: “It’s absolutely ridiculous, if it wasn’t for Bookbug when Jamie was a baby I’d have no social life. Parents need these groups and older people need interactions with the staff and others at other groups. They [the councillors] clearly don’t care about the community at all.”
And Danii McKellar added: “I wouldn’t be wanting people coming onto the campus where my kid was. But maybe that’s just me thinking it’s really weird to put public libraries that everyone can use…. Inside a school. Ye that’s my issue ! They’re rushing this through and safety issues r not being addressed at all. It’s wrong. It’s bad enough that they house pedos near schools, now they’re putting public libraries in them. So does that mean pedos can’t use the library because they’re not allowed near children? Or is this an exception to the rule?”
Gillian Bell responded: “Danii McKellar exactly! Or adults that aren’t allowed near kids can go in as staff can’t vet anyone going in! Plus it’s gonna be small compared to the building they have the now so loads of groups who use it need to find somewhere else to go ! They will just close it altogether after few years as it won’t get used.”
Danii McKellar said: “I hope it gets blocked. I don’t have kids, but I was a child who was abused, and I would absolutely freaking hate for children to not have a safe space, when school is meant to be a safe space for every single child.”
Much more will be reported on this important matter here over the weekend, but that will not include the contributions from Labour and the SNP who made a political football out of a very important local issue. The people of Haldane are concerned to keep this matter in the public eye before the library is imposed on these schools without consultation. The Council has the money, so there is no reason why this can’t happen. All they need is the acumen and the courage to do this. Labour has to show they are not cowards and to stop exaggerating about the consequences. There is no chance of the Council being made bankrupt if they impose this closure. There is a very good chance though that they will lose their seats if they do so. What should happen is that the Council should be put into special measures and members should have their salaries suspended.