Plans for the closure of seven Moray libraries has picked up pace just 24 hours after a campaign group took the unprecedented step of launching a legal action against Moray Council.
Opposition councillors clashed with the Tory and Independent administration in the council chamber on Tuesday over an ‘insensitive’ move that would see computer equipment in the libraries planned for closure handed over to community groups to offer a continuing service – but only if the groups agreed to pay for the service.
SNP opposition leader Pearl Paul attacked the plan, revealed at a meeting of the policy and resources committee, branding the move as completely insensitive and being conducted at the wrong time.
Councillor Paul spoke out on Monday over the libraries issue, backing the campaigners legal intentions and calling on Moray Council to reverse their decision in the face of fierce opposition both in Moray and throughout Scotland.
In a report to the committee on Tuesday the Council’s chief financial officer, Mark Palmer, said that they would hand over computer equipment used in the libraries to local groups providing that they met operating costs such as internet access.
Councillor Paul said: “We are putting communities in a bad position here. There could be groups out there who would be delighted to get new equipment – but not at the expense of a facility in the town.
“This is insensitive and completely at the wrong time.”
Save our Libraries Moray are launching a legal challenge at the Court of Session, with the group aiming to seek a interim interdict ahead of their case being held that would force Moray Council to keep all libraries open until such time as a legal decision over their actions has been considered.
Vice-chair of the group, Joan Megson, said last night: “The Moray Council administration are continuing to ignore every reasonable appeal being made to them over the closure of our libraries.
“What they should be doing in the very least is suspending the closure of the libraries until such time as all the legal arguments have been heard. Instead they continue with their course of damaging these vital community services and worse, seeking the help of local voluntary groups in the hope that they will pick up these vital services and mitigate the damage being done by their crass actions.”
Leader of the Moray Council administration, Allan Wright, said that there is a proposal to close seven libraries, adding: “We are just trying to make sure they (the computers) are available to the community.”