Yesterday (10/09/13) Moray Councillors voted to press ahead with initial plans to close seven rural libraries. Libraries at Burghead, Cullen, Dufftown, Findochty, Hopeman, Portknockie and Rothes were first singled out for closure in the Council budget earlier this year. At the time the proposals were met with widespread public outcry, and a number of community groups were established to save Morays Libraries.
Subsequently an Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) was commissioned to investigate the fallout from the proposed library closures – the outcome of which said that three of the libraries should be retained. While opposition councillors did put forward separate proposals; one to save all libraries, and a second to save the three highlighted in the EIA; the administration bloc decided to press ahead and close all seven.
“This decision is an absolute disgrace” stated Moray Greens Convenor, James MacKessack-Leitch. “The decision to close all seven of these rural libraries will have devastating consequences on those who rely on the range of services they provide. Once again the penny-pinching Council Administration bloc has badly let down the citizens of Moray with this act of cultural and societal vandalism.”
“These rural libraries provide lifeline services to many of their users, and are a vital tool in advancing an educated, socially active, engaged and online community – all vital traits for the successful and vibrant society we all want – and a key foundation on which to build any meaningful economic development.”
“Instead we see a move in the opposite direction towards disenfranchisement and isolation affecting all vulnerable groups; from the elderly who want to learn the computer skills to keep in touch with their grandchildren; to young children just learning to read and beginning their adventures in the boundless world of books. This is a move that will be far more costly in the long term.”
“Councillors have a duty to protect the welfare of their citizens, and while the numbers using these libraries is allegedly small, these are the people that are often the most vulnerable, and to see so many Councillors vote to axe the libraries on their own doorsteps, in the face of their own Equalities Impact Assessment, is not only a failure in that duty but also paints a shameful picture of Moray.”
“I have no doubt that the campaign to save our libraries will continue, and Moray Greens are proud to continue to fight alongside.”