Tuesday’s unprecedented decision by the Tory/Independent administration to ignore legal advice and throw out a detailed Equalities Impact Assessment has stunned the entire community.
Any projected savings the local authority will make from closing seven community library services will very likely be completely swamped by ultimate costs from defending their action, action that the council leader, Allan Wright, openly admitted he expected to be forthcoming.
That, according to Joan Megson, one of the founding leaders of the ‘Save Burghead Library’ campaign, has left many questions unanswered.
Mrs Megson said: “It is not just those members of our group who are left angered and confused by this decision, it is reaching out to the entire community.
“People who previously were supportive but perhaps not to the extent of taking any action are now coming to us and saying how disgusted they are with the Council decision.
“They are quite rightly asking questions, such as just what reasons do the independent councillors have for taking decisions they know are so damaging to the communities they profess to serve?”
Members of the Save Burghead Library group will meet on Thursday evening to discuss their next move, with Mrs Megson insisting that rather than feeling defeated by the latest council decision they are even more determined to protect their library.
She said: “What appears clear to most people is that the council administration were happy to go along with a EIA in the belief that it would back up their own viewpoint. That did not happen – so they decided to take what we think was an illegal route to have their way.
“It is almost as if they are acting in spite against those who dared challenge their decisions.
“We in Burghead and I’m sure those in other parts of Moray are not spiteful, we are members of concerned communities who are fast reaching the view that some of our councillors are out of control – and we are not prepared to just sit back and let them destroy services that are vital to our communities.”
Meanwhile another political group in Moray are speaking out against the council decision.
Moray Greens Convenor, James MacKessack-Leitch, slammed the administration last night, saying: “This decision is an absolute disgrace – 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.
“Instead we see a move in the opposite direction towards disenfranchisement and isolation affecting all vulnerable groups from the elderly to young children; a move that will be far more costly in the long term.”
“Councillors have a duty to protect the welfare of their citizens, but to see so many 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.”
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