Hours at Newton Stewart library are increased

Dumfries and Galloway Council chiefs have reversed plans to restrict opening hours of library services in Newton Stewart.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 4:56 pm
Councillor Jackie McCamon intervened to reverse plans to cut the time the library is open

The change of heart comes following a direct intervention by Mid Galloway and Wigtown West councillor Jackie McCamon.

Now the local library will have its ‘walk-in’ services increased from eight hours per week to 21 hours, over a five-day period.

Councillor McCamon welcomed the decision, saying: “I am delighted the council has now seen sense and extended opening times.

“I could not believe it when I initially received a document from the council detailing reviewed opening hours – and stating it was only going to be open two half-days a week.

“When I contacted council officers about this, I was told it was due to feedback they had received.”

However the councillor was horrified to discover the information came verbally from staff at the customer service centre – and there was no written feedback from the public.

She added: “I could not believe a local authority had taken such a drastic step to cutback a public service based simply on word of mouth.

“How could they determine how much demand there is for the library service when it was barely open?”

Councillor McCamon insisted that she is regularly asked when the local libraries will be opening more often – and not closed.

She said: “The one in Newton Stewart is situated right beside a primary school and many parents have commented to me that they would like to visit the library with their children after school but can’t because it isn’t open.

“It is known to be a healthy activity to improve mental health and well-being, so it is vitally important that the council do more to ensure libraries remain open much longer instead of trying to restrict them.

“The Scottish Government has ring-fenced more than £1 million to assist with the re-opening of libraries and extend the hours they are open.

“I got the impression enquiries had not been made about how they go about receiving this additional money. However, I believe since I raised my concerns with the director of communities and head of service, this has now been done."