Cautious welcome for recommended retention of Libraries

There was a mixed reception from campaigners following the news last night that a recommendation is to go before Moray Council that they retain three of the seven local libraries scheduled for closure.

As first reported on insideMoray a special meeting of the council will take place on Tuesday to discuss an Equality Impact Assessment (ESA), ordered after the March decision to close libraries in Burghead, Dufftown, Cullen, Rothes, Findochty, Hopeman and Portknockie.

The closures, part of a bid to save £24million from the council budget over the next four years, were immediately opposed by members of the public, local SNP politicians and renowned authors from around the country.

It has emerged that the ESA report recommends the retention of the existing library services in Dufftown, Cullen and Burghead.

One of the ‘Save our Library’ campaign leaders in Burghead, Joan Megson, last night gave a cautious welcome to the news.  She said: “It is not over yet of course, Councillors are yet to vote on the subject when they meet next week so we are not prepared to break out the champagne just yet.

“However, it is good that the report recognises our library and those at Dufftown and Cullen are essential to their communities, a point we have been arguing from the very beginning.

“We have always said that removal of these services would place an unbearable strain on the very young and very old.  We were told that people could use the larger libraries that were remaining open – but that was a spurious response and never a realistic option in a rural community with poor public transport links.

“It was also suggested that the rise of internet use made libraries less essential, when in fact the opposite was the case – the only way many people could access the internet is through their local libraries.

“The ESA has recognised all of these points but we have to question why it recommends going ahead with the closures in Rothes, Portknockie, Hopeman and Findochty where the same arguments could be applied.

“So while we sincerely hope our Councillors now accept the ESA recommendation on Burghead, Dufftown and Cullen libraries we also retain a hope that they take another look at the other four and decide to retain most if not all of these services.”