SCOTTISH Borders Council leader David Parker has defended the right of Live Borders, the trust which runs the region’s 12 public libraries, to halt the supply of daily national newspapers in these facilities from April 1.
Councillor Parker was responding to criticism of the move by former SBC leader Drew Tulley who last week urged councillors to “apply pressure” on the integrated sports and culture trust to reverse its decision.
Mr Tulley, 79, was particularly concerned about the impact on elderly people and those on limited incomes who do not have internet access and who depend on reading room visits for “social interaction”.
Mr Parker told us: “Live Borders is an arm’s length organisation from SBC with its own board of trustees which is responsible for making decisions on how best to run leisure, sport and cultural services in the Borders.
“The withdrawal of national newspapers is entirely a matter for the trustees to determine.
“Councillors can, of course, make representations to Live Borders, but ultimately the trust is responsible for the decisions it takes.”
Asked to explain the daily paper ban, a spokesperson for Live Borders said: “In recent years, demand for this service has declined dramatically due to the wide range of media platforms now on offer.
“We felt that to stock a full range of national papers to avoid any political bias would be an unnecessary cost to the service.
“The libraries will continue to provide online access to members of the public which allows them access to all major news providers.
“Local newspapers will still be available in all Borders libraries.”
Live Borders assumed control of SBC’s libraries, museums, community centres and public halls in April last year.
The council pays an annual fee to the trust of more than £6 million – around 60 per cent of the organisation’s annual budget.