REVEALED: Libraries across Dundee could close two days a week due to budget cuts

Broughty Ferry library could be one of the city libraries to operate at a part-time basis.
Broughty Ferry library could be one of the city libraries to operate at a part-time basis.

Community libraries across the city could be forced to close two days a week as Leisure and Culture Dundee looks to save hundreds of thousands of pounds from its budget.

Facilities in Ardler, Blackness, Charleston, Coldside, Broughty Ferry, Douglas, Fintry, Kirkton, Lochee, Menzieshill and Whitfield, as well as the Hub community library on Pitkerro Road and the mobile library, could have opening times cut.

Only the Central Library in the Wellgate Centre would be unaffected.

It comes six months after Dundee City Council slashed £375,000 from the organisation’s annual budget, which the Tele understands is still yet to be officially signed off.

It means Leisure and Culture Dundee is currently operating without a formal budget.

Dundee City Council’s Labour group leader Kevin Keenan accused the SNP administration of creating “a financial mess”, and has written to Leisure and Culture Dundee and council leader John Alexander seeking clarification.

Kevin Keenan

“At a time when we are looking forward to the V&A opening and a major cultural improvement in the city, it’s wrong we should have the threat of reduced service hanging over our libraries,” he said.

“If the administration didn’t understand their own budget then they should say so, apologise and rectify the error.

“It’s unacceptable that so far in the financial year Leisure and Culture is operating without a proper budget. I am looking for a guarantee there will be no cuts to library opening hours.

“Labour proposed to give extra money to Leisure and Culture to fund activities but this was dismissed by the same people who have now created the financial mess.”

A source close to the council said that although no decision had been taken, there were three options on the table over the future of the libraries.

Inside Dundee Central Library

“This will affect all Dundee’s council libraries in the city apart from the Central Library at the Wellgate,” they said.

“No decision has yet been taken but the options are to close all the branches on a Thursday, a Friday or on both of those days.

“This would be completely unacceptable, especially if it was part of a lack of understanding of the budget process.”

A staff member at one of the community libraries said: “City libraries are currently a shambles with services under threat.”

A report to the council’s policy and resources committee this year revealed that Dundee has the highest percentage of citizens who are library users of all Scottish authorities.

Nine of the 13 libraries showed an increase in visits in 2016-2017.

Stewart Fairweather of union Unite said: “Any threat to our libraries is unacceptable. Increasing numbers of Dundonians rely on libraries, which are central to meeting people’s everyday needs.”

Blackness Library.

Dundee City Council said it would be “inappropriate“ to comment.

A spokeswoman for Leisure and Culture Dundee said: “(We have) an approved budget which, like most other areas of public service, includes savings targets.

“The board and management team are continuing to work to achieve these and there have been no decisions taken in relation to any reduction in library opening hours.”

Council administration leader John Alexander had not responded to a request for comment.