Community route is final course of action for Libraries

Hopeman campaigners at the weekend.

Library users in Hopeman and Rothes will be looking to Moray Council to assist them in providing a community service of some form after the closure of their libraries at the weekend.

Protests at the two libraries on Saturday marked the end of a battle that has raged since the council administration announced in February that they intended to close seven of the region’s libraries.

That decision was ratified by the Council in September against legal advice and the recommendations of an Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) that found that the authority would likely be in breach of their legal obligations to the elderly and disabled.

Save our Libraries Moray was formed on the back of that decision and fought a campaign that reached a national audience, gaining support from authors and politicians from throughout Scotland. ┬áTheir campaign and decision to take the case to the Court of Session forced a U-turn from the Council, who agreed on September 20 to retain three libraries recommended in the EIA – but deciding to close another four.

It was only in the final days before closure that Save our Libraries Moray admitted it would not be in anyone’s interest to pursue the legal route any further.

Protesters gathering outside Hopeman library ahead of its closure on Saturday included Vivien Hendry, who had taken Moray Council to the very edge of an appearance in the Court of Session. ┬áMs Hendry said: “This is a desperately sad day for Hopeman and the other four communities who are now losing their library service.

“All we can hope for now is that minimal damage is caused to our community by this closure, for that we would like to see the transfer of assets from our library – books and computer equipment – to the community so that we might set up a lending group and provide internet access ourselves.

“Hopeman Community Association has already backed this plan and will host a public meeting soon – it will then be up to the Council to do the right thing and help in every way they can.”

Campaigners in Rothes will monitor the situation closely with a view to following a similar course.

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