Council admits Coylton library error

Coylton Library used to be a hub for community events in the village until in closed in 2016.
Coylton Library used to be a hub for community events in the village until in closed in 2016.

Council bosses shut a library to save cash but then wasted thousands of pounds in rent after failing to cancel the building lease.

Coylton Library closed its doors in March 2016 as part of South Ayrshire Council cuts despite widespread protest from residents.

The council rented the building in the village but never bothered to end the lease after the closure it has emerged. It blew a year’s worth of unnecessary rent at a cost of £5,000 public cash paying for an unused room.

It is understood the landlord repeatedly informed the council about the need to terminate the rental agreement. But it seems that no action was taken due to an administrative blunder.

The council admitted the mistake after the Ayrshire Local Democracy Service learned of the incident.

Laura McEwan who campaigned to keep the library open said the council’s paperwork error was of “great disappointment” to residents.

She said: “Once again South Ayrshire Council make disastrous financial errors which come at great cost to our local community. After much campaigning, Coylton, like so many other villages, lost its library services and the building stood empty for many months.”

She said the £5,000 rent could have gone to other vital “community services” and blasted council cuts at the Coylton Gala.

The mother-of two added: “How can they justify raising the council rates while this continuous waste of money is allowed to proceed unchecked?”

A council spokesman said: “The council’s lease at 28 Main Street Coylton was terminated in August 2017, annual payments of £5,000 were made up to this point in line with the lease agreement. The lease was not terminated earlier due to an administrative error.”

The council shut the Coylton hub along with two other libraries in Dailly and Dundonald to make a projected £35,447 during that financial year. 

Coylton villagers waved placards as workers turned up to strip the shelves of books during a tense protest soon. 

At the time council head of leisure Jill Cronin said the closure of the Coylton hub was “necessary” to “help the council balance its budget.”

She added: “We know local people are disappointed about the decision to close the library and we do sympathise.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service was unable to reach the owner of the library building for comment.