What is going on with Cambuslang Library? Why is it not fully open? When will Money Matters resume a full service?

For 9 months, Cambuslang Community Council have been trying to find out why Cambuslang Library has not fully opened. In the Spring, other local libraries opened but Cambuslang Library remained closed for many weeks. When the Library did eventually open in May, the opening hours were restricted, preventing school-age children from using it after school and at weekends.  The Money Matters service in Cambuslang Gate also failed to resume a face-to-face service. We submitted a Participation Request to South Lanarkshire Council to find out whats happening.  But this was rejected with the Council referring us to its delivery body, South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture (SLLC). But SLLC havent replied to requests for information.We consider it intolerable that the local community is being kept in the dark.

What is going on?

At the start of the pandemic, Cambuslang Gate was closed in common with other public and commercial services. This affected Cambuslang Library and access to other services notably the Money Matters free and confidential advice service.

Cambuslang Gate re-opened partially after the worst of the pandemic, but the re-opening of Cambuslang Library was delayed – much longer than other local libraries – for reasons that remain unclear. When the Library did finally open again on 3 May 2022, the opening hours (9.45 am – 3.45 pm) have been much more limited than prior to the pandemic, again for reasons that are unexplained.

This contrasts with other local libraries. For example, Rutherglen Library is open 9.15 am – 6pm, with late night opening to 8pm on Thursdays and all-day Saturday (9.15 am – 5pm).

The Money Matters service has also not been fully re-established, and is only available by phone and online, rather than through face-to-face consultation, as previously.

Negative impacts on the Community

In response to this situation, Cambuslang Community Council undertook a Community Survey (Cambuslang Gate services – CCC survey report) during the summer to assess community views on the services in Cambuslang Gate. Because of the continuing effects of the pandemic, the survey was conducted wholly online via SurveyMonkey which will have excluded a significant minority of local residents who are digitally  disadvantaged.

This is what our community consultation found.

The survey indicates that current opening hours are completely inadequate. There is significant, regular demand among local residents for Library use, with local residents relying on the Library for a wide range of services, not just for adult and children’s books, but for computing/copying facilities and community information services as well.  However, the current Library opening hours are overwhelmingly regarded as insufficient.

Children’s education and adult and child wellbeing were negatively affected during the pandemic in many households, and Cambuslang Library provides important services in these regards. The fourth largest town in South Lanarkshire needs to have a full library service comparable with other local libraries.

The financial advice service needs to resume face-to-face services. The Money Matters advice service has been a lifeline service for a minority of residents. Respondents feel strongly that the Money Matters service needs to be available via face-to-face consultation.

The UK is in the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory, which is expected to get worse as a result of inflation, wages not keeping pace with price increases, and rapidly rising energy prices. Significant numbers of financially vulnerable people will experience poverty and indebtedness. More than ever, face-to-face advice services are needed.

South Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Leisure & Culture need to be open with people

After nine months of trying to get answers through elected members and officials, we have at last got a meeting with the Deputy Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council on 27th October. We, and the community, will be expecting answers on the long delay in providing a service that the community need and deserve. Most importantly, we want to hear that there will be an immediate resumption of the full Library and Money Matters services at a critical time for the community.

A copy of our survey report on community views of the Library and Money Matters is here: Cambuslang Gate services – CCC survey report