Argyll and Bute’s SNP MSP, Michael Russell, yesterday chose to attack Argyll and Bute Council for cutting – not extinguishing – library services as part of its budgetary response to the 3.5% average cuts imposed – forcefully – by Finance Secretary, John Swinney, on all Scottish local authorities for 2016-17.
Yet, days earlier, on 26th February, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had gone out of her way to congratulate two specific councils – Aberdeen and Argyll and Bute – for ‘the way they had managed the pain of this year’s budget’.
It has also emerged that the reduction to school library services came directly from headteachers. Councillors in the current council administration sat down with headteachers to discuss how they felt the education budget – the largest single cost to the council by a very long way – could best absorb its share of the imposed cuts.
In order to protect as far as possible the provision of classroom assistants of various kinds, the headteacher apparently identified library services as an area in which they could accept cuts. The specific school library services affected are also said by a council source to have been identified by school librarians.