The Save our Libraries Moray campaign group is to take their complaint against Moray Council to seek a judicial review at the Court of Session.
Tory and Independent administration councillors at the local authority are set to go ahead with the closures of seven libraries and one mobile library at the end of November. That is despite the a clear case against closures in an Equalities Impact Assessment and the advice of the Council’s own officials.
In a statement made today at the Laich Moray Hotel in Elgin, chairman of Save our Libraries Moray, Alistair Jeffs, said: “It is a sad day when we are forced to make a legal challenge against the Council Administration that should be representing and protecting us.
“It is widely accepted that the libraries are a pillar of our communities. The libraries are a lifeline to users across the community from pre-school groups, adult learning groups and the elderly.
“The libraries help with education, give access to reading material, allow development of free thought, support our heritage and culture, provide access to computers, access to jobs; the list of benefits are endless yet the direct savings from closing the seven libraries is only £70000.
“The Administration will not listen to requests from individuals, our community groups, our Community Councils, our MSPs, our MP, or the Scottish Parliament to keep the libraries open.
“We strongly believe that the Administration has systematically and blatantly ignored its own legal experts, equality officers, library staff, its public consultation and its Equality Impact Assessment. We strongly believe the Administration has broken the law.
“We are now united in the belief that there remains only one road available to us, and that is to take our case to the Court of Session.
“This decision is based on a sure belief that our case is a compelling one; it is supported by legal advice from the Advocates Library in Edinburgh – that advice outlines several grounds under which the Moray Council decision can and should be challenged.
“These grounds include a breach of the public sector equality duty Moray Council has under section 149 of the Equalities Act 2010; A failure by Moray Council to take into account material considerations, and a failure by them to consult in breach of legitimate expectations.
“We feel that such is the gravity of the situation, the legal challenge will prove to be a test case for the whole of Scotland.
“If it takes £100,000 and 100,000 signatures we will not allow our libraries to be closed.
“Whatever it takes, whatever it costs the Administration will be subject to the law and the democratic will of the people of Moray.
“We have asked for our libraries to remain open. As decreed by law the libraries have been open since 1887, as decreed by law the libraries are open now, and as decreed by law the libraries will be open in the future.”