Campaigners in Moray have hit back at the leader of the ruling Independent group at the local authority following his claims that they had “no regard for party dogma”.
Responding to a challenge from the Save our Libraries Moray group over pledges made by Independent and Tory councillors ahead of their election in 2012, Councillor Stewart Cree defended the decision of Independent and Tory councillors to close seven libraries and one mobile library in Moray.
Councillor Cree is reported to have said that “The public may take some reassurance from the fact that the 11 independent members – having no regard for party dogma – have been able to agree service reductions in a variety of areas on the basis that such cuts were inevitable and unavoidable when viewed against maintenance of essential services such as education and care of the elderly.”
Save our Libraries vice-chair, Dr John Megson, said that statement flew in the face of the words and actions of Councillor Cree when he sought election in May 2012.
She said: “The Convener and his group of independent councillors are acting exactly like a political party so claiming they have no regard for party dogma is bending reality somewhat.
“Few people in Moray disagree that savings have to be made, what people do not understand is why they have to be made to an essential service such as our Libraries.
“Councillor Cree claims the Libraries have to go to protect essential services such as education – is that an assurance that no cuts to Moray’s school estate will be forthcoming?
“Or does he not appreciate that our Libraries are very much a part of our education system, as well as being vital resources used by young and old alike.
“A boast made by Councillor Cree in his own pre-election literature last year included the following – ‘Our libraries and swimming pools have remained open whilst, elsewhere, many have closed’
“He had to know at that time cuts to services were just around the corner, he was after all a part of the previous ruling administration.”
Hundreds of Save our Libraries Moray supporters are expected to join those protesting against the £8.5million western approach road project planned for Elgin and others fearing that Common Good land in Forres is to be sold to make way for a retail development.
March for Moray will begin at 11.45am on Saturday, October 12 in Elgin’s Glen Moray Drive before proceeding to the High Street.
Councillor Stewart Cree represents Keith and Cullen on Moray Council. One of the libraries to be closed is Cullen.
In his pre-election leaflet last year he gave the following assurances to voters:
“That’s why I stand as an Independent Councillor and will, if I am elected, continue to answer only to my constituents. I have shown that I can do this and, whenever necessary, fight for what every community in East Moray deserves a fair share of the cake.”
“However, I see it as my duty to make sure that these changes do not affect the most vulnerable in our society like the elderly and our school children. Priorities like these have to be protected but, where savings have to be made, we must aim at cutting costs rather than cutting services.”
“Our libraries and swimming pools have remained open whilst, elsewhere, many have closed.”