Don’t take the easy option on libraries

What on earth is the point of freezing the council tax if it means a reduction in services as a consequence? The proud boast of numerous councils, not to mention the Scottish Government will count for nothing if the current situation is to continue.

I eyed with alarm the recent proposal of Moray Council to close seven libraries, including one at Hopeman which was granted EU funding only two years ago, fearing that such action might be imposed on us here in Formartine.

Hopefully, and it is only a hope, Aberdeenshire will be too street wise to embark on such a strategy, or will they see library closures as an opportunity not to be resisted?

Closing libraries may seem like an easy option, though consensus politicians should beware of the electorate’s ability to hit back when basic services are withdrawn.

Aberdeenshire, or Gordon District as it was, has a fine record of promoting library services, thanks to the vision of former District Councillor Bob Duncan of Ellon who enthusiastically ensured we wil be too streetwise had a service to cherish.

Currently there is no suggestion of cuts for the service, not that I would put it past our officials to sneak a proposal under the radar, unnoticed by our less vigilant politicians.

Not possible you might say, but knowing just how many of our so-called senior officials have a background in accountancy, I would not be surprised if they were to offer a seductive sell, offering libraries as a sacrificial lamb. Sadly we now have a situation where the tail appears to wag the dog.

Freezing the council task will in fact only lead to job losses in the public sector, which is surely the last thing politicians of all hues would want!

But if we do have to lose council jobs, you can bet it will among the ranks of the Indians and not in the more rarified ranks of the chiefs. Nothing has changed, or so it would seem, from my view in the cheap seats.

While I am having a side-ways swipe at our beloved council, I will be the first to say how sorry I am to see Keith Newton, area manager for Formartine retire early from the post.

Keith knew I did not agree with the area set up as operated by Aberdeenshire, but he never let it affect our amicable relationship. I wish him a long and happy retirement.

I shall miss our chats about the game of rugby. We at least agreed on most things involving the oval ball game.

Hopefully we will meet up on an excursion to Murrayfield over the winter.

I still maintain the area structure has no place in local democracy, isolating as I believe it does the very communities it purports to bring together.