No plans to reduce library services - council

CEO of Westmeath County Council Pat Gallagher has dismissed speculation that local library services are to be amalgamated or reduced as “scaremongering”.

His remarks follow increasing concern that library services in Westmeath are to be combined with their Longford counterparts, which was first proposed in the 2009 ‘Bord Snip Nua’ report.

Members of IMPACT trade union met with councillors on Monday morning to brief them of their concerns that such a move would result in a reduction in service, expertise, and staff, and the closure of some smaller libraries in rural areas.

Cllr John Dolan raised the issue at Monday’s county council meeting, saying that councillors had not been consulted on any possible change in their role as overseers of the county’s library service.

“We shouldn’t have to meet with trade union representatives to hear about this. If this plan is in the pipeline, when will we be consulted?” he asked the council executive.

However, Mr Gallagher dismissed the idea that there are any proposals to merge library services.

“There is no proposal to close any branch library in Westmeath, or to change your role as policy makers and overseers of the library service,” he told councillors.

He also expressed surprise that the council executive were not invited to the briefing, and that IMPACT had not attempted to engage with council management.

“Management wasn’t invited to any meeting with the union. This is the first time I’ve seen elected members but not management engaged with by a union. Management and staff will engage with the union locally if requested,” said Mr Gallagher.

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