South Scotland

Wigtown campaigners fight cut in book town library hours

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Media captionWigtown is Scotland's national book town

Campaigners in Scotland's national book town, Wigtown, are fighting plans to cut the public library's opening hours.

The move was effectively approved when Dumfries and Galloway Council agreed its new budget last week.

From April, opening hours are set to go down from 42 per week to 17.

However, the local authority has confirmed the libraries budget has an £80,000 flexibility fund. It is hoped this could be used to finance additional hours.

Campaigners have said a cut in hours conflicts with the book town status and they have demanded a re-think.

'Committed to festival'

Anne Barclay, manager of the Wigtown Book Festival, said: "The decision being made by Dumfries and Galloway Council is ultimately going to undermine our status as Scotland's book town.

"It definitely is bad symbolism. Wigtown is a town built on books. The library is a crucial and key part of that. It is a hub of the community.

"It is there for young and old alike. People use the library for all sorts of things. There isn't a day of the week that you don't go in there and find a total cross section of our community."

Councillor Colin Smyth said: "The council is absolutely committed to Wigtown as a book town.

"We are committed to the book festival there, which brings a lot of visitors to this region. That is one of the reasons why, within the budget for libraries, we have built in a flexibility of £80,000 to see whether or not we can actually support additional hours in libraries such as Wigtown and in other areas facing similar reductions.

"We are committed to working with the local community to try to find a way forward."

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