Moray’s library closures to be taken to the national stage

Campaigners in Moray say that their fight to keep libraries in the region open is not just a local issue but a national one.

At a meeting on Thursday evening the Save Burghead Library group discussed what options they now have following the surprise decision by the Conservative and Independent administration at Moray Council to close seven community libraries.

The Council’s leader Allan Wright, who is one of four councillors from the Heldon & Laich ward that includes Burghead, admitted earlier this week that a legal challenge to their decision is expected.

That admission came on the back of the closures coming against the recommendations of an Equalities Impact Assessment and legal warnings of possible consequences from council officials.

At the Burghead meeting it was agreed that a joint approach with representatives from all affected communities in Moray should be taken, with a meeting being planned “as a matter of urgency”.

It is expected that top of the agenda for that meeting will be a legal challenge to the council decision.

Following the meeting a spokesman for the group said: “What emerged from our meeting is that we no longer consider this as being a local campaign to save one library, it is not even a Moray-wide campaign to save the seven libraries.

“This has become a national campaign to halt the closure of libraries throughout Scotland.

“It remains inexplicable to us and many people in Scotland just why Moray Council have decided to go down this road. They say that they have no choice because they have to find between £20million and £30million in budget savings over the next three years.

“It appears that they can’t even be certain about the level of savings required.

“What we see is their closing a vital community service for savings that barely represent 1% of the total they need to make, and that leaves us to question just why they are so determined to go down this road – regardless of the fact that having to defend a legal challenge would very likely wipe out any savings achieved.

“What we now have is a fight not just for our libraries but all libraries in Scotland. We believe that Moray Council are testing the water, that if they get away with closing half the libraries in Moray then it would send a signal to every local authority in Scotland to do likewise – and much worse.

“That is why we will seek to contact every MSP in Scotland to canvas their views and support in this fight.”