Published: 13/09/2013 12:34 - Updated: 13/09/2013 12:48

Legal challenge to library closures

CAMPAIGN groups fighting library closures in Moray are preparing to mount a legal challenge, it has been revealed.

Alistair Jeff outside Dufftown Library.
Alistair Jeff outside Dufftown Library.

Moray Council this week took the controversial decision to close seven of its 15 libraries in a bid to save £357,000.

Three of the seven libraries appeared to have been given a reprieve when an Equalities Impact Assessment recommended that Burghead, Cullen and Dufftown should be kept open.

However, the Conservative-Independent administration dismissed the report and voted through the closure of all seven libraries.

While there has been anger in the communities affected, one leading campaigner said the fight was far from over.

And Alistair Jeff, a member of Dufftown and District Community Association, confirmed that the cross-Moray library campaign is set to discuss a legal challenge. "We are in touch with the other groups and we are looking at mounting a legal challenge," he said.

Mr Jeff said: "They have made an irrational decision. I am shocked.

"There was a lot of detail in the (EIA) report, and a good reason as to why the three libraries should be kept open.

"This decision is in the face of all the recommendations in the report, which is strong and well founded. A lot of time has been spent preparing that report, and I am amazed they have not listened to it."

Professor Ashley Mowat, chair of Cullen Community Council, said: "The whole situation is sad and short-sighted. It is a hugely retrograde step.

"My own feeling is that any councillor who voted for any form of closure should hang their heads in shame, but we live in a democracy. We always have the ultimate sanction, but that is still some time away.

Daphne Francis, from Burghead, declared: "The battle is not over yet. We felt we had been listened to and the case was strong in terms of the libraries as a social hub.

"I am horrified that they are taking the risk of legal action. The length of that document shows how thoroughly it has been looked into. You don’t cut vital services in the midst of an unpredictable economic situation. To replace them in the future would be phenomenally expensive."

For more reaction see 'The Scot' print version.

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