AN SNP councillor has branded the decision to move Balloch Library into a nearby primary school as “incomprehensible” and “unforgivable”.

Jonathan McColl was speaking after controversial plans to house the public library inside the campus of Balloch Primary were voted through by the Labour administration despite an 11th-hour attempt by the SNP and Councillor Jim Bollan to halt the bid.

There has been widespread objection to the proposals tabled by the Labour-led administration at West Dunbartonshire Council, a move which it is claimed would save the council £50,000 a year.

Fears over child safety, the loss of much-loved community groups held in the current library, and capacity space at the school have all been cited as over 100 natives took to the streets recently to voice their opposition.

And Cllr McColl echoed the sentiments of locals whilst at the same time admitting he didn’t quite understand the decision-making of his counterparts.

He told the Dumbarton and Vale Reporter: “Utterly incomprehensible, utterly unforgivable, and I think it will have a huge impact on the daily lives of many people who rely on the service a library provides.”

At Wednesday night's emergency council meeting to decide the beleaguered library’s fate, Cllr McColl listed off the various facilities Balloch Library provides to the local community.

From Bookbug and Baby Yoga sessions, to book hire and free computer and internet access for people, he outlined why it was a vital service.

He also spoke about the financial context that pressing ahead with the library move would mean, describing the £50,000 saving as a “drop in the ocean” as far as savings go, or 0.2 per cent of what WDC need to save.

And he fears the “downsizing” of the library service, as he describes it, will have a lasting impact on future generations.

He continued: “They are planning to squeeze it into an area that is slightly less than a third of the size of the current footprint of the building.

“This means there is going to be a huge loss, not just books available for borrowing but other resources.

“Last night they told us there is going to be a maximum of three computers available, down from eight, and they are all very well used."

Before adding: “Because of the size of the space it is going in, it is not going to be able to be used for the same sort of other uses that Balloch Library currently is.

“We don’t know whether they are going to be able to hold the Book Bug sessions for example.

“We reckon it is going to be impossible for them to hold the likes of the baby massage sessions, which are always jam-packed full.

“There are all sorts of things not going to be able to happen simply because they don’t have the space.

“It is not going to be available for the public to use for their uses.

“It’s the only free accessible public space that we have in the area at the moment and that has been taken away.”

The chamber was told during the meeting that WDC had moved £1.75 million into the council reserve accounts which was currently "doing nothing".

And trade union Unison explained they were “dismayed” at the decision.

They said: “West Dunbartonshire Branch of Unison were dismayed to learn last night that proposals for relocation of libraries went ahead, especially when we learned £1.75 million is apparently sitting in an account "doing nothing" the full council was told, and the cost of living scheme was under-subscribed.

“This means that two pots of money are available and accessible which could have and arguably should have, been used to maintain services in local communities.

“Our members tell us that their service is well used and that this is the last remaining free-to-use, safe space available for residents in the community to use.

“The relocation of Balloch Library we are told will have a significant and severely detrimental impact on our community and many current services will be lost all together from the library.”

However, Provost Douglas McAllister defended the move and instead blamed the central SNP Government for the cuts.

He told the Reporter: “The SNP Scottish Government has consistently underfunded local government since 2007.

“This includes the SNP slashing financial support to West Dunbartonshire Council resulting in a budget shortfall this year in excess of £21million and unfortunately by a further £17million next year.

“The SNP's answer to this when they were in administration was to close libraries and reduce opening hours.

“Instead, we have saved and secured the future of our Branch Libraries including Balloch.

“By moving into a new building we will retain the library service for the local community and at the same time protect the library jobs.

“However, council services and jobs are under serious threat from this SNP Government.

“What we really need is a change of government, a government which will recognise the value of council services and provide fair funding to West Dunbartonshire and all other Scottish Council councils.

“That change will only come from a Labour Government, the change Scotland and its councils so desperately needs."