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15 October 2013

SNP Representatives Comment on Culture Secretary's Intervention in Moray Library Closures

SNP representatives in Moray have welcomed developments in the ongoing libraries closure saga impacting communities across Moray.

Scottish Government Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to Moray Council expressing her concern and urging them to reconsider the closures.

Meanwhile the Equalities & Human Rights Commission has written to the SNP Opposition Group in Moray Council setting out the issues that a court could be asked to consider in relation to the decision by Tory and Independent councillors last month.

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson said:

“This is hugely significant for a Government Minister to intervene in this way and in such strong terms.

“It underlines the case made by the local campaigners that this is a short-sighted decision which, in this age of online business, will leave people who don’t have access to computers of their own at a severe disadvantage.”

Commenting the SNP’s Opposition Education Spokesperson on Moray Council, Cllr Mike Shand, said:

“The high level intervention by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is very welcome and underlines the serious concerns held by many, many people about the decision to close seven libraries.

“In the meantime I know that the campaigners against the closures have been seeking legal opinion and the response we have now received from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is very helpful in setting out what the court would have to consider in relation to the Council’s equality duty and its decision making process.

“The SNP remains fully behind the efforts being made to prevent these closures, which we believe is a fundamentally flawed decision from an Independent/Tory coalition that is making the wrong choices with little regard for the consequences.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said:

“Moray Council’s Independent and Tory Councillors are facing fierce criticism from both local communities in Moray and from people across the country - from well known authors like Allan Bissett and Janice Galloway to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, who has roundly condemned this decision.

“It is time Moray Council’s Administration reconsidered this decision and responded positively to the concerns and priorities of people across Moray.”

Moray MP Angus Robertson said:

“It has been said that ‘Libraries are the mind and soul of their communities’ and the response to the crazy decision by Independent and Tory councillors in Moray to close over half of the region’s libraries quite clearly demonstrates that community link.

“On the one hand the Independent Convener of Moray Council is espousing the virtues of internet access as a way round reduced library provision, while on the same day he congratulated an organisation for their face-to-face work in their communities in an age of ipads and Twitter. This two-facedness is symptomatic of a Council Administration that has no strategy and no vision for Moray.”
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