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A shake-up of libraries and community centres is being planned across North Ayrshire.
And people across the council area will play a pivotal role in the future of the facilities in the coming weeks and months as wide-ranging engagement will be carried out to determine how the services can best be delivered in years to come.
With council budgets coming under sustained pressure, the council says it wants to work alongside communities in shaping the future services but has admitted that relocation and community asset transfers will be looked at.
While no details have been given it is clear that Arran Library and Brodick Hall and community facilities around the island will be part of the review which the Conservative opposition has warned could result in the closure of some libraries and affect services at community centres across the council area.
A working group was set up last year to develop proposals for more effective ways of ensuring people continue to access community services in challenging economic circumstances. Made up of elected members from all political groups on the council, alongside North Ayrshire Federation of Community Organisations and council officers, the working group identified a range of themes and areas for discussion.
The working group’s proposed themes will now form the basis for engagement with communities on how to deliver services such as libraries and community services in ways which meets the needs of the community. Themes include the potential relocation and co-location of libraries, their opening hours, and exploring further volunteer support where appropriate.
Currently, North Ayrshire is very fortunate that 26 of their community centres are operated by volunteers, with support from council staff.
The working group’s themes include further co-location of partner services within community centres where possible, alongside options for community asset transfers where possible, and the exploration of greater use of facilities to encourage community businesses.
Cabinet member for communities, Councillor Louise McPhater said: ‘Residents will be well aware of the financial challenges faced by councils across Scotland – we have to find viable, economic solutions which allow us to continue to deliver the services people want.
‘We are proud of the relationship with our communities and that’s why we want them to play a key role in helping to shape the future of our libraries and community centres.’
Conservative group leader Councillor Tom Marshall said: ,The Conservative Group have been involved in early discussions on this rationalisation programme and will support sensible proposals that allow savings to be made to enable the council to balance its budget.’
Brodick Hall which currently houses Arran Library. 01_B03library01