Thursday, 7 February 2008

Kristallnacht at the Carnegie Library in Ayr

Well, not quite. They didn't actually burn the books, according to the Ayrshire Post. They sold 200 'damp and mouldy' books and raised £450 for the hard pressed council coffers. So far so good.

Out comes a local authority spokesperson to add the sort of slant which only local authority spokespersons can. The sale brought in 'additional revenue' which the council would have been deprived of, had the books been sent for recycling.

Er, yes.

Not as much as it would have brought in, had anyone bothered getting the books valued. As the bookseller who bought them for peanuts did.

The 'damp and mouldy' books, some dating back to the 17th Century, have been put on sale for a combined £45,000 - 100 times what the local authority sold them for. A local civic society has spent £1000 of its own money to buy back some of them, but the vast majority have been lost to the library for ever.

South Ayrshire has the distinction of being the only Conservative local authority in Scotland, having seized control just over two years ago when the leader of the previous Labour administration resigned his seat. Last May, the voters gave the Tories the benefit of the doubt, blaming Labour for the cash crisis which the Conservatives had inherited. However, in the last two years, there has been a series of decisions which have made people wonder.

At Holyrood, the SNP depends on the support of the Conservatives in order to force through its budgets. In doing so, including the Council Tax freeze, the Conservative MSPs can claim responsibility for fiscal prudence at the cost of delivering a monstrous kick to the goolies of their flagship council, which desperately needs to raise some cash. Still, if its latest efforts are anything to go by, they maybe needn't bother.

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