DESPITE a lack of public consultation, West Dunbartonshire’s One Stop Shop service and library branches will merge in a bid to save £150,000.

The local authority plans to make the saving by 2021/22 through increasing access to the services – which offer advice on a range of issues – while getting rid of six jobs.

The One Stop Shop – which enables residents to access services such as council tax and housing benefit advice and to make payments – will be available in eight libraries and the council’s Church Street office in Dumbarton.

It means Clydebank’s One Stop Shop will relocate for the third time in five years, moving now from the Co-op building to Clydebank Library.

After a successful pilot at Alexandria Library the aim is to increase face-to-face support from 105 hours to 287 hours per week at Balloch, Dumbarton, Dalmuir, Parkhall, Duntocher, Faifley and Clydebank libraries.

The issue was discussed at the corporate services committee last Wednesday, where Councillor John Mooney said: “Various consultations have been mentioned in this report, but I just wanted to know what consultation had been carried out with our own citizens.”

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A council officer replied: “We haven’t consulted with our citizens on this. We did the library consultation in 2017 where residents talked about how they wanted to keep their branches open and see more money spent on their libraries.

It is hoped the move will allow residents better assistance during evenings and Saturday mornings. Those living in Balloch, Faifley, Duntocher, and Park Hall will be able to access citizens’ services much closer to home without having to travel to town centres.

The officer continued: “We’ve tested the idea in Alexandria for more than a year where footfall has increased by more than five per cent at a time where nationally library visitor numbers are going down.

“The same number of staff would work in each branch. Opening hours would stay the same and the service delivery would be unaffected.”

Concern was raised that the move could “strangle libraries” with services.

Cllr Caroline McAllister said: "There is evidence moving other services into libraries does work and does make them sustainable and the Vale library is a classic example.”