Protesters : Council Chamber no place for ‘Stubborn Disregard’

Richard Lochhead MSP and Angus Robertson MP.

Hundreds took to the street in Elgin on Saturday to protest against Moray Council’s policy of investing in roads while closing ‘essential’ services.

Moray’s MP Angus Robertson was joined by MSP’s Richard Lochhead and Stewart Stevenson alongside several local councillors in a march through the town.

‘March for Moray’ was organised by the Design Better Streets campaign, who are calling on the local authority to halt their plans for a new £8.5million approach road into Elgin.

They were joined by Save our Libraries Moray, who are seeking a reversal of the Tory/Independent group plans to close seven libraries and one mobile library, pointing out that the £350,000 estimated savings that would bring could easily be cancelled out by not spending around £500,000 each year on the controversial new road.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission will discuss a submission by the SNP Group at Moray Council on Monday that seeks their views on the legality of the library closures, taken against the Council’s own legal advice and the recommendations of an Equality Impact Assessment.

Moray Council will also receive a letter this week from the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP, urging them to rethink their strategy on library closures, while Save our Libraries Moray expect to learn of legal advice over their bid to challenge Moray Council in the Court of Session.

Previously local MSP Richard Lochhead linked the decision over the Elgin Link Road with that of the Library closures, saying: “We have the ironic situation where the council appears to be devoting resources to a project which is causing considerable upset to many people – while at the same time making reductions to a service that has public support.

“The council has an opportunity to show that it is listening on the two issues, it should revisit the link road project and keep only the parts that provide access to the new Elgin High School and the proposed areas for social housing.”

Following Saturday’s march the Chairman of Save our Libraries Moray, Alistair Jeffs, said: “We were delighted to see our local MP and two MSP’s marching with us as did a number of Councillors who have also opposed these closures.

“So far the Independent and Tory councillors are just not listening to the people of Moray – they have taken a stubborn and entrenched position that has to be of considerable concern for everyone living in this community.

“Yes we are facing austere times and yes we have to tighten our belts – but councillors digging their heels in and insisting that it is OK to build a road that nobody really wants while closing services such as libraries that we do want is just not the way to go.

“There is still time for Moray Council to think again over these decisions, listen to what they are being told and act on it. The Council chamber is not the place to act in stubborn disregard of the people.”

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