Library campaigners highlight Moray Councillors’ ‘broken promises’

Councillor Wright

As support builds throughout Scotland for the local fight against the closure of seven libraries, the group behind the campaign are highlighting what they call the “reprehensible” broken promises of the Moray Council Administration.

Save our Libraries Moray has published extracts from pledges made by Independent and Tory councillors ahead of their being elected to office in May last year.

These include an undertaking by the leader of Moray Council, Councillor Allan Wright, “…. to oppose any move to close sport, leisure and community facilities across Moray.”

Two of the libraries scheduled for closure, against the recommendation of an Equalities Impact Assessment and the advice of Council legal officers, are in the Heldon & Laich ward that Councillor Wright represents.

Vice Chairperson for the group is Dr Joan Megson, who said: “Many people were shocked when the Council voted on September 10 to close seven libraries.

“For most people there was a feeling of being let down by ‘Independent’ councillors who were elected on promises of putting the needs of their local communities above party politics.

“And yet here we are some 17 months later witnessing those same Independent councillors acting and voting on the very ‘party lines’ they claimed to be against.

“The leader of Moray Council even went so far as to pledge that his party would fight any move to close leisure and community services in Moray and yet here he is leading the charge against them.

“In reminding people of what councillors actually said to the electorate at the last local elections we hope that those representatives concerned take a long and hard look at themselves and the reprehensible line that they have taken.

“If democracy does indeed work in the way that most of us believe it should, then these Councillors might have second thoughts about the decisions they have taken.”

The group published extracts from pre-election statements made by seven Tory and Independent councillors to the Northern Scot newspaper in April 2012.

Only Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor, Douglas Ross, did not vote on the closures as he was absent on the day of the vote.

Meanwhile the convener of the Moray Green party has highlighted the national support expressed by his party at their conference last week.  James Mackessack-Leitch said: “I am heartened that delegates decided to back the motion with such overwhelming support.

“The point was well made during the debate that every Local Authority in Scotland is facing similar challenges, but to propose closing almost half the areas libraries suggests that either the Moray Council is in unprecedented financial trouble, or just does not share the same priorities as any other Local Authority in the country – particularly so when it was pointed out that the Council is keen to spend millions of pounds on an unnecessary link road instead.”

“I am delighted to pass on the many messages of support from around the country to the libraries campaigners, along with best wishes for the March for Moray this Saturday, 12th October.”

Statements made in April 2012

Allan Wright (Conservative, Heldon and Laich, now Leader of Moray Council): “Our manifesto is designed to make Moray a better place in which to live, work, and bring up children.

“We will work towards the agreed national priority of early intervention and preventative spending across the range of services, but especially services for the elderly and very young….and a promise to oppose any move to close sport, leisure and community facilities across Moray.

“The Conservatives are also committed to an equity of service across the local authority area, making sure that rural communities have access to a fair share of services. I know they [Conservative candidates] will ensure that the opinions of local people and communities are heard loud and clear in Moray Council.

“The final manifesto pledge is for elected councillors never to forget that their primary role is to represent the views of local people.”

Eric McGillivray (Independent, Heldon & Laich where two libraries are to be closed) – “…Council decisions should be based on what the community wants and needs….”

Chris Tuke (Independent, Heldon and Laich: “…He feels it is time for someone to make the community’s voice heard….”

Anne Skene (Independent, Forres): “…Her priorities include…open and inclusive decision making”

Ron Shepherd (Independent, Keith and Cullen, Cullen is on closure list): “He is standing as a local, non-political candidate, pledging to represent voters’ interest, fight for their communities and continue working with community organisations.”

Anne McKay (Independent, Buckie): “…It is her intention to commit herself to work for the public, providing a listening ear to their local concerns and serve their best interests…..”

Douglas Ross (Conservative. Fochabers Lhanbryde): “He has pledged to continue to scrutinise what is put forward by officials and strongly oppose any proposals which are not in the best interest of local people.”

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