Partial u-turn for Moray on library closures

Partial u-turn for Moray on library closures

Moray Council has backtracked on plans to close seven of its libraries, allowing three to remain open following public protest.

The Scottish council originally wanted to close seven of its 15 libraries, in an attempt to save £350,000 from its annual budget. However, campaigners have fought the decision, citing an Equalities Impact Assessment that showed that the closures could have an adverse affect on the elderly and disabled, and sought a judicial review to challenge the council.

Council leaders have now said they cannot commit to a lengthy period of litigation, and have said that libraries in Burghead, Dufftown and Cullen will remain open. However, the council has continued to insist its original decision was correct, and said libraries in Findochty, Hopeman, Portknockie and Rothes will be closed.

Councillor Allan Wright, the leader of the ruling Independent and Conservative administration, was quoted in the Scotsman as saying: "Clearly, we cannot commit to a lengthy period of litigation, with all the uncertainty that will bring and costs to the public purse. We knew it would be unpopular, but unpopular decisions are part of the job of any elected representative. We still believe it was the correct decision, but we recognise that defending it that would distract us from the task in hand of cutting our annual spending."

However, campaigners will continue to fight the remaining closures. Richard Lochhead, the member of the Scottish Parliament for the area, said: “This is a major climbdown by the Moray Council’s administration but it still does not go nearly far enough. There is a strong case that all seven of the libraries under threat should remain open.”