Pressure builds on Moray Council as campaigners lodge court papers

Court of Session in Edinburgh to hear Library case.

The pressure on Moray Council’s administration group to reverse their decision on Library closures is set to increase this weekend.

At the end of an intense week of activity by the campaign group Save our Libraries Moray the local authority could learn as early as Monday that the threat of legal action is a reality.

On Monday campaigners announced their intention to take their case to the Court of Session, saying that they felt they had been left with “little option” but to seek legal recourse as the Council’s administration continued to refuse to take account of their own legal advice and the findings of their Equality Impact Assessment.

Now insideMoray understands that papers have been lodged with the authorities that will see Moray Council being notified of the intention to seek a Judicial Review of the case, with the court likely to impose an Interim Interdict temporarily halting the plans of the local authority to close seven libraries and one mobile library at the end of this month.

Campaigners are confident that several failures by Moray Council in their statutory duties will see them win the day – despite public claims by the leader of Moray Council, Councillor Allan Wright, that they had gone through proper procedures.

The Independent/Tory administration were challenged again in the Council Chamber this week when SNP opposition councillors highlighted a legal challenge to Gloucestershire and Somerset Council’s that was won by campaigners – and the authorities had to pick up a  joint legal bill of £165,000.

Councillor Wright hit back at that time, highlighting another case in Brent where the Council successfully defended an action.  However, a spokesman for the Save our Libraries Moray group said: “We were aware of the Brent case having researched several Library closure challenges.

“The difference in Brent is that the local authority had not only undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment, but they had taken note of that assessment and followed its recommendations – something that Moray Council and the councils in Gloucestershire and Somerset did not do.”

Moray’s legal challenge could cost anything between £50,000 and £100,000 – with Moray Council picking up the tab should they lose the case, meaning a total bill for the local authority of up to £200,000.

The campaign spokesman said: “This is an action we had hoped to avoid – and we would still prefer to avoid it, the administration has an opportunity with the SNP group launching a motion on November 20 seeking a reversal of the decision.

“It would be to their credit if the administration took heed of that and stopped this damaging policy now.”

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