Campaigners aim to halt November Library closures

Alistair Jeffs – Save our Libraries Moray.

Campaigners say that they will do everything possible to halt Moray Council’s plans to close seven local libraries at the end of November.

It emerged on Friday that the local authority has commenced procedures to close libraries in Portknockie, Cullen, Burghead, Hopeman, Rothes, Dufftown and Findochty.

Staff have been informed of the closure date while plans are being laid to dismantle equipment at some libraries ahead of the formal closures.

Representatives from several of the communities affected by the closures met with Moray’s MP Angus Robertson and MSP, Richard Lochhead, at Elgin Library on Friday.

Both politicians expressed their support as they learned from the Save our Libraries Moray group that legal advice had been obtained with further information on a challenge in the Court of Session.

Save our Libraries Moray chairman, Alistair Jeffs, said: “The meeting with Mr Robertson and Mr Lochhead gave us an opportunity to update them on action we have taken thus far.

“Both expressed their continuing support and that is important, as is the support we have been received from around the country from library users to senior politicians.

“Just ahead of the meeting we learned of the Council’s intention to close our libraries at the end of November, our intention is to seek an interim interdict to halt any such action until such time as our case is heard at the Court of Session.

“We still find it incredible that the Council Leader, Allan Wright, seems more concerned about our MP and MSP showing our group support than he is about the impact these library closures will have on our communities.

“Councillor Wright acknowledges our democratic right to challenge this decision in the courts, it does appear that this is what he has been seeking all along.

“It is disappointing that a local authority that makes a great show of consultation and listening to the electorate prefers to do so through expensive legal challenges.”

Following Friday’s meeting Richard Lochhead MSP said: “Moray Council carried out an Equalities Impact Assessment to look at the impact of each individual closure on the communities they affect.

“That assessment concluded that three of the libraries proposed for closure should remain open – yet the council chose to ignore that and still go down the line of closing almost half their libraries.

“It is understandable that people are furious about that and that is why this campaign group are up and running.”