MORAY MSP Richard Lochhead today launched a fresh attack on the “folly” of Moray Council’s controversial plans to close seven libraries as part of the strategy to cuts its budget by £30 million over the next three years.
He said that research had shown that Moray Council alone accounted for seven of the eight libraries facing closure in the whole of Scotland.
Mr Lochhead, who is the SNP’s Scottish Environment Secretary, said: “Everyone I speak to understands the budget pressures that both the Scottish Government and the council have, what they are angry about is the bad choices that the council are making such as closing libraries and hitting education.
“The simple fact is only one other library in the whole of Scotland is closing this year while Moray’s Tory, Independent and Labour councillors have supported the closure of seven.”
He said: “I am continuing to raise these issues directly with the council’s Chief Executive on behalf of the many constituents who are raising their concerns. I continue to urge the council’s administration to re-think these closures which will have a major impact on a wide range of services accessed through the libraries network.
“The closures will have a detrimental impact on those seeking work, people doing computer courses, children using services such as Rhyme Time, the Spirit of Moray Book Festival which has been well received in recent years and many other activities.”
Councillor Allan Wright, the leader of Moray Council, defended the closure plan.
He said: “As has been explained many times, we are currently undertaking an equalities impact assessment of the libraries in question.
‘However, the fact remains that in one coastal area we have three libraries within four miles of each other. That is simply unsustainable if we are to reduce our annual spend by £30 million.”
He added: “It is a little rich for the SNP to complain about decisions made as part of the budget we have to implement when they have not come up with a single alternative suggestion themselves. We would welcome any suggestion the MSP has as to how we might balance our books and keep the same level of library service.”