CONTROVERSIAL plans to slash library hours in Clydebank have been kicked into the long grass in a bid to give a new community centre for Faifley.

Libraries in Faifley, Parkhall and Duntocher were all to have their opening hours cut nearly in half under plans to cut costs and more closely match demand.

But a last-minute motion at last week’s corporate services committee instead said the issue should go to consultation first and particularly aim to replace Skypoint in Faifley with a new community education centre, including a library for the area, moving it from its current location at the back of Edinbarnet Primary.

Labour pointed out the SNP were the ones who closed the library at Skypoint in the first place and they then reopened it at Edinbarnet.

And they suggested the SNP feared upcoming HMIE inspections of schools while cutting back library provision and with a letter from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIPS) blasting the proposals.

Faifley was facing a cut in hours from 37 a week down to just 15, as reported by the Post after committee papers omitted the current hours.

The SNP amendment states: “Committee believes that Skypoint CE Centre provides a more suitable location, but has fallen into severe disrepair after many years of neglect. Therefore, committee agrees that officers bring forward to the relevant committee, options for a new CE centre on the Skypoint site that will include space for a new Faifley Library.”

The plan could go to council for the 2019/20 financial year, but still further away with planning and tendering required.

Jim Finn, SNP councillor for Kilpatrick ward, told the Post after the meeting: “There is nothing to do in Faifley and Skypoint is not up to it. Skypoint has done its job up to now – it needs pulled down and something modern built in its place, something like Centre 81 in Whitecrook but bigger.

“I think it’s something for the future and to get people involved – if you say ‘this is yours’, people will care about it. This is my vision for the future of Faifley.”

Claire Gallagher, chairwoman of Faifley Community Council, welcomed the suggested new centre and said they wanted to be included at every step.

She said: “This is great news and a much needed resource. Having met with Councillor Finn back in April with our ideas for Skypoint we are pleased that he has listened to the community council and has taken forward our idea.

“We also requested that any future building of a community hub should be carried out in conjunction with the people of Faifley and that their requirements be incorporated.”

Labour said they would welcome a new Skypoint but said it was “ironic” since Cllr Finn and council leader Jonathan McColl agreed to close Faifley Library in 2010 within Skypoint. Lawrence O’Neill campaigned for its re-opening in his 2011 by-election and 2012 election, securing it at its current site.

Cllr Douglas McAllister said: “Make no mistake, the SNP had hoped to sneak through before Christmas massive cuts to the library service in both Faifley and Duntocher without any consultation with the community and library users. So much for their promise to be open and transparent. They have been shamed into a consultation exercise and it seems they have come up with the idea of a new community centre incorporating a library on the back of a fag paper.”

“How much will it cost? I would estimate in the region of at least £5million. When can we expect this development to begin, and will they in the meantime draw back from slashing the library opening times?”

“If not then it all seems pie in the sky and the usual empty promises from the SNP, who have yet again reverted to form and attacked Faifley with this reduction in the library service located at Edinbarnet Primary and well used by Faifley families.

“Also I expect a backlash from the people of Duntocher when they discover the SNP’s plans to close the library at 2pm - a ridiculous idea, but again it’s what we have come to expect from this incompetent administration.”

Cllr John Mooney, who lives in Faifley, told the Post: “We would be in favour of a new Skypoint and consultation, but there was quite a lot of pressure to get to that point.”