A WAR of words has broken out over the future of local libraries after Conservative MSP Jamie Greene voiced fears about potential closures in North Ayrshire.
Mr Greene, a list Conservative MSP for the west of Scotland, revealed that closure of some libraries was being considered in order to make savings.
But SNP councillor Alan Hill, who sits on the council working group responsible for libraries, today blamed 'Tory Government austerity' behind the budget problems, and said the council will do its 'level best' to continue the service.
Having being contacted by a constituent on the matter Mr Greene made enquiries to North Ayrshire Council
He received a response highlighting that that savings of £177,291 in 2018-19 had been agreed as part of the council’s review of school and public library services – while a further £372,919 is being considered for 2019-20.
In total the planned savings amount to £550,210 while a further £532,469 reduction is being considered for community centre support funding.
North Ayrshire Council says a working group will be set up to look at the situation in detail.
MSP Mr Greene says the libraries must stay open.
He told the News: “Local libraries are a lifeline service to so many in North Ayrshire.
"They not only provide literature and education, but many local residents rely on them to use their IT facilities as they don’t have access to a computer or internet connection at home.
“It’s distressing to see half a million pounds of cuts being considered to our libraries in the next two years as the council struggles to balance its books and keep its balance sheet afloat. This could impact thousands of residents in North Ayrshire.
“I’ll be raising this in Holyrood at the next occasion.
"North Ayrshire Council has been chronically underfunded for years and now the effects are really starting to show.”
But Largs SNP councillor Alan Hill insists the local authority's cash crisis is a direct result of UK Government austerity.
He said: "I'm afraid crocodile tears from local Conservatives are of little interest to me and will do absolutely nothing to assist us in our struggle to continue to deliver local services.. 
"When the SNP took over the administration of the council back in 2012 we put a stop to Labour's planned community centre closures.
"Whilst in administration we also managed to maintain all of our libraries whilst authorities elsewhere were closing some down.
"Due to continuing Tory austerity, something Jamie Greene supports, the council is now having to look at making savings in this area once again.
"I represent the SNP on the working group that is looking at halls, centres and libraries and I will be doing my level best to ensure that we continue with these vital local services.
"I cannot promise that council services will all continue to be delivered in the same way and from the same buildings, but I can promise that we will do everything within our power to protect local services."