Moray Council has been forced to admit that they would need to repay over £72,000 in European Development funding they received to upgrade libraries they now plan to close.
Only three years after paying £175,000 to move just one Library into Hopeman Primary School, the local authority are seeking to close it and six other libraries in the region – with five of them resulting in repayments having to be made to Europe.
The cash payback was revealed this week by Vivien Hendry, the Hopeman mother of two who is spearheading an action against the local authority at the Court of Session. Ms Hendry is already behind a legal letter to Moray Council’s Chief Executive seeking a temporary halt to the closures due to take place at the end of this month.
Ms Hendry said: “The £27,277 in ERDF funding Moray Council received in 2010 has to be repaid – and that all adds up to the impression of Moray Council being completely short-sighted over their decision to close our libraries.
“I cannot see any future applications that Moray Council might make being looked on in a favourable light given how they have squandered the money they received for five of the seven libraries they now seek to close.”
A spokesman for Moray Council admitted that the funding would need to be returned, saying: “In considering the closure of those libraries part-funded by European funding, members were aware that there might be a requirement to pay back all or some of the grants received specific to that provision.
“It has now been confirmed that all European Funding received would need to be repaid.”
The controversial decision to close the libraries is to be debated at Holyrood in a cross-party motion led by Banffshire & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson on Tuesday.
On Wednesday the SNP group at Moray Council will put forward a motion seeking a suspension of Council Standing Orders to allow further discussion over the decision to take place in the light of the impending legal action.