Campaign groups dissatisfied at the decisions of Moray Council are set to join forces in a ‘March for Moray’ through the centre of Elgin.
Organisers hope that thousands will turn out and show their support against the planned closure of seven libraries in the region as part of £30million cost-saving measures by the Council – while at the same time pressing ahead with plans to create a new Western Link Road into Elgin at a cost of around £8.5million.
The ‘Elgin Designing Better Streets’ action group will be joined by the newly formed Moray-wide libraries campaign, ‘Save our Libraries Moray’, in a march through Elgin on Saturday, October 12.
Designing Better Streets have long insisted that the approach road is in the wrong place, at the wrong time and at the wrong cost, adding that Scottish Government plans are now well under way to create improvements to the A96.
They say that would almost certainly include a new bypass for Elgin and so make the entire west link road project an unnecessary burden on Council finances.
The Save our Libraries group has also pointed to the “bizarre” decisions of the Independent/Tory administration at Moray Council, saying that the local authority appear to be happy to risk the costs of legal action to save less than £400,000 in closing libraries while contemplating spending much more each year on a “road to nowhere”.
Last night Save our Libraries (Moray) chairman Alistair Jeffs said: “At the invitation of the Elgin Designing Better Streets action group we have decided to join their ‘March for Moray’ on October 12, and urge the people of Moray to join us in letting the administration at Moray Council know exactly how we feel about their bizarre actions.
“We have said all along that we fully understand the need to make savings – but we look at other parts of Scotland where the same pressures have been imposed and find that they appear to be managing much better than Moray has.
“The question has to be asked – why is that? We have heard the leader of the Council say that if these measures are not taken then outside intervention might be needed to save Moray from bankruptcy.
“And yet this is the same council leader who has helped guide Moray’s finances for the last six years, the same council leader who while contemplating closure of a service that provides essential community support is planning on splashing out over £8million on a road to nowhere.”
Meanwhile Save our Libraries will meet local MP’s and MSP’s from both the SNP and Labour parties to discuss the decision by Moray Council to close seven libraries despite receiving warnings that their decision may be illegal.
Representatives from the group will meet with Angus Robertson MP and Richard Lochhead MSP on Friday, while an invitation has also been received to meet with Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant.
Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Mr Lochhead said: “Closing libraries is the last thing that should be happening in our communities. On the one hand the Council says it wants communities to do more but it then decides to close seven major community hubs – which is what our libraries are. How are these two aims remotely compatible?
“The library campaigners have the full support of the SNP, with our councillors firmly opposing the decision to close libraries.”