Libraries campaigners look to a secure future

Library users in Burghead took time out on Saturday to celebrate the saving of their local library and to urge people to volunteer in helping it remain open in future.

The local library was one of seven scheduled for closure by Moray Council’s Independent and Tory administration first announced in February.

That decision was delayed as an Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) was prepared – then in September administration councillors voted again to close all seven libraries despite the findings of the EIA supporting the retention of Burghead along with libraries in Cullen and Dufftown.

Burghead campaigners joined with those from other under-threat libraries to form the Save our Libraries Moray campaign, who took the first steps at launching legal action against the council. That forced a final U-turn last month that saw the three libraries being retained, but those at Portknockie, Rothes, Hopeman and Findochty closing.

Saturday’s event was attended by Moray’s MP, Angus Robertson, and Richard Lochhead MSP who both provided strong backing to retaining all seven libraries in the region.

Dr Joan Megson, who led the original campaign in Burghead and serves as vice-chair of the Moray-wide campaign group said: “Our celebration on Saturday was tinged with sadness that we had not managed to save all seven libraries.

“We were of course delighted that we helped force a change of mind by councillors – now Save our Libraries Moray becomes the Friends of Moray Libraries, a constituted group whose sole purpose is to promote and support library services in Moray.

“We had the new Senior Librarian with us on Saturday to offer advice to people while we have established an ‘ideas book’ at the library for people to give their views on what they would like to see at Burghead Library that would make it better for all.

“If there is anyone in the community who might be interested in volunteering to help the library in any way then we would also like to hear from them.”

Angus Robertson said he was “delighted” that campaigners were continuing in their efforts to secure the future of their local library. He added: “The passion we saw throughout the well organised campaign will now be put to good use in promoting and assisting the work of the local library services.”

Richard Lochhead said: “I was delighted to return to Burghead under happier circumstances and it was good to talk with local people who are clearly determined to ensure that their library is put to good use.

“The shame is on the Moray Council administration who forced through the closure of four libraries in Moray that will be sorely missed.

“I would hope that every assistance is provided by Moray Council to people living in these communities who have now indicated a wish to retain some of the services lost through these closures.”

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