Published: 10/09/2013 13:00 - Updated: 10/09/2013 13:12

Council vote to close seven libraries

MORAY Council has voted to close seven of its community libraries.

That is despite a 150-page Equalities Impact Assessment which recommended Dufftown, Cullen and Burghead should be reprieved.

The Tory-Independent administration on the council voted the closures through 13-10, sticking with a budget proposal made in February which will save £357,000

Councillors were warned before they took the decision that they could face a legal challenge under equalities legislation.

The move was condemned by the SNP opposition group who called for no library closures to be made, however, that option was defeated.

And a motion by Labour councillors Barry Jarvis and Sean Morton that the council should retain Dufftown, Cullen and Burghead, while closing Findochty, Hopeman, Portknockie and Rothes was also defeated.

Council Leader Allan Wright said he disagreed with many of the conclusions in the report and the retention of eight libraries, with improved transport and broadband connections across Moray, would still provide an adequate service.

However, SNP Councillor Mike Shand said he was staggered by the "arrogance and ignorance" of the administration group.

He claimed they had "callously disregarded" the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Councillor Morton said the authority would lay itself open to a potential legal challenge from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and others, and expose the area to national ridicule.

However, Councillor Wright said: "I believe with the closures we retain in Moray a sufficient network of libraries to meet the needs of the people of Moray."

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