COUNCIL cuts have placed Fairlie and Skelmorlie community centre and libraries 'under threat' of closure say angry community groups.

Public consultations got underway this week to look at the future of the facilities, but every area is likely to see major changes.

Both Fairlie and Skelmorlie community centres, which have been leased to the council since the 1970s, would be run by their respective community associations under the proposals being presented.

This would result in local volunteers having to find £10,000 a year to keep them open and viable.

Groups have voiced 'grave concerns' - and have claimed the move will lose the ruling Labour minority council votes at the next election.

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said: "I am particularly annoyed that the public consultations this week were not more widely publicised and have written to the council officer responsible.

"I have written to the Fairlie Community Association in support of their actions to retain the library and village hall in Fairlie, and it is a similar situation in Skelmorlie.

"If you look at Fairlie which roughly has 800 properties, including the new Dawn Homes properties, you are looking at a total of £1.6m in council tax - so it is not really much to ask for £10,000 to keep these public facilities open."

Labour Councillor Alex Gallagher said: "We have to look at the possibility of changing the ways we run libraries and halls as we are subject to very severe cuts from the Scottish Government.

"Some consider these services to be an essential service - but it is not a life threatening one.

"There are other things which are more vital in terms of health and well being. We are trying to find a way to finding a way in which libraries and community centres are compatible with the way the budgets keep getting reduced such as an asset transfer to these community groups to help cut the costs.

"In my view, it is reasonable to expect local groups to take control of local services."

Bill Spiers, of the Skelmorlie Community Association, said: "The trustees have owned the centre since 1973 when it was built.

"The council agreed at the time that they would lease the centre from the trust and in return they would pay for utility, caretaking, cleaning and maintenance.

"We made it very clear at the last consultation back in May that we wanted to carry on with the same arrangement and not discontinue the lease.

"Skelmorlie only has a population of around 2,000 people and there is no way we could make this run efficiently without increasing the let fees.

"We would encourage the whole community get behind this and make this view clear at the four-week consultation."

Fiona Shephard of the Fairlie Community Association said: "Older people who use these centres will be isolated all over North Ayrshire. It is very much an issue of public health.

"We have toddlers, art club, badminton, pilates, a cinema and live theatre. It is a very well used facility.

"The last time they had a review of halls and centres Labour lost the election. The people in North Ayrshire were up in arms and I can see the same thing happening again."

Secretary Elaine Campbell said: "The population of the village is increasing with new houses being built and these new families along with existing residents need local groups, social activities, and the library to foster community interaction.

"We would like as many people as possible to contribute to the forthcoming consultation."