SBC puts up silence signs on revised library plans

SBC chief executive Tracey Logan.
SBC chief executive Tracey Logan.

SCOTTISH Borders Council is set to amend its controversial proposals to merge libraries and customer service contact centres in seven towns including Duns and Coldstream.

The plans would see staff trained and redeployed into multi-tasking roles and opening hours cut.

A revision to the revamp, designed to save the local authority up to £130,000 a year in running costs, was agreed at a meeting of senior officials and councillors.

The summit was called to discuss hostile public responses to the plans – affecting Selkirk, Jedburgh, Kelso, Innerleithen, Duns, Melrose and Coldstream.

But the council is this week steadfastly refusing to divulge details of the rethink and the revised proposals – due to be outlined in a report by education director Glenn Rodger – will not be made public until a week before the full council meets on December 15.

Mr Rodger, along with chief executive Tracey Logan and executive councillors Graham Garvie (culture, sport and community learning), Eyemouth’s Michael Cook (corporate improvement) and George Turnbull (education) attended the meeting.

Mr Garvie (Tweeddale East) had earlier intervened to delay a decision, due to be made in October, because of the negative responses from community councils and user groups who had been briefed during the previous two months.

He said he had been particulary “taken aback” by the hostile reaction to the proposals in Selkirk, Kelso and Innerleithen.

“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss feedback from the consultation exercise regarding the potential integration of libraries and contact centres in seven towns,” said an SBC press release issued on last week.

The statement quoted Mrs Logan as saying: “Having taken into account the feedback from various groups, including community councils, friends of library groups and others, we have revised our proposals and are confident we are now in a position to take forward a report to full council in December.”

When asked if community groups would be involved in further consultation ahead of Mr Rodger’s report, an SBC spokesman said: “Currently, further consultation is taking place with elected members.

“If the proposals are agreed at council (on December 15), further consultation will take place with both staff and the public on certain elements, such as the layout of buildings and the exact opening and closing times of each site within the approved number of opening hours for each site agreed at the council meeting.”

But he confirmed that the decision made on December 15 would be final with regard to six of the towns and that only in Selkirk would further consultation be required.