Locals challenge council decision

Bearsden, Brookwood Library and villa.
Bearsden, Brookwood Library and villa.

Residents have vowed to challenge the decision to sell Brookwood Library in Bearsden on the grounds that they were not consulted.

Councillors voted at a recent meeting to sell off Brookwood Library and Villa as well as Bearsden registry office on Roman Road.

They will use the revenue from these sales to pay for the hub at Bearsden Burgh Hall, which will cost £3 million.

In last week’s paper, Thomas Glen, the director of East Dunbartonshire development and regeneration, denied that there had been no consultation.

However, Alan Oliver, a member of the Champions Group, which was set up to make sure people’s views were heard and acted upon, still insists that the council did not listen to the community’s wishes.

Alan said: “We heard the bombshell that East Dunbartonshire Council had plans to sell Brookwood library and villa and had ruled out the eight other options on November 20 and that the councillors were voting it through that same day.

“This was never mentioned in the ‘so-called’ consultation.

“The decision was made by the Conservative/LibDem/Labour leaders of the council - Rhondda Geekie, Ashay Ghai and Billy Hendry. We did not get a chance to see any options, they were kept secret until after the vote.

“I challenge these councillors to give me one member of the local community who is happy with the consultation process.

“Those who voted for this should be ashamed of this process. How can they sit back and allow this to happen?

“All we ask is that they let their constituents decide what happens in Bearsden.

“I’d like to think that now the facts are laid bare, the community as a whole will not accept the sale of further Bearsden infrastructure.

“I look forward to the process that creates a hub that benefits the whole community but surely we can do it without selling the library and villa?

“At the very least we should sit round a table and discuss the options and why they were chosen.

“I’m not alone and plan to help change the decision and the underhand way it’s been achieved.”

Independent Councillor Duncan Cumming said: “In the past few days, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted me to express their dismay and outrage at the decision to sell Brookwood Library and Villa.

“The administration has forgotten that the population of Bearsden is in excess of 27,000 people (2011 census), and they should have been consulted before such a momentous decision was taken.

“The council leaders are blatantly riding roughshod over the wishes of local people who believe this is an atrocious decision which is fundamentally flawed.

“They have one opportunity to hold their hands up and admit that this decision is wrong, and is not in the best interests of the people of Bearsden, and should go back to the drawing board.

“Thereafter, an extensive and meaningful consultative process should be designed and implemented to consider the wishes of the people.

In this way, local people would then be enabled to have ownership of the decision making process to determine the future of these important buildings in Bearsden.”

The director of East Dunbartonshire Council’s development and regeneration, Thomas Glen, says the plans for Bearsden hub have been influenced by community engagement sessions in the past year including focus groups with current user groups of the burgh hall and Brookwood Library, community councils, tenants, residents associations and members of the public.

The Champions group met in May and they were updated in July while the council looked at options to accommodate feedback. This group will meet again on Thursday, December 4 to provide views on the recommended option and an information session is being held on Thursday, December 11 at Bearsden Burgh Hall from 6.30pm-8pm to allow people to ask questions and give their feedback.

Councillor Ashay Ghai defended the plans, he said: “It’s false to claim that consultation on the hub proposal was not thorough and genuine. The council decision to create a shared service point or ‘hub’ incorporating a new library took place over a year ago. Since then stakeholders, community groups, users of Bearsden Hall, Kilmardinny House and Brookwood library, have all been part of the consultation process to help shape what people want from the new hub facility. It became clear from this that the retention of full hall space at Bearsden Burgh Hall was a priority to the community and that there was less enthusiasm for a new enterprise centre. The council administration responded by proposing even more investment at the Burgh Hall to retain the hall space and create the best facility we possibly can.”