Closures of Aberdeen libraries and swimming pool to be reconsidered
Aberdeen City Council will launch a new public consultation in order to avoid legal action by campaigners
Campaigners have welcomed a consultation by Aberdeen City Council which could provide a pathway to reopening six city libraries and Bucksburn Swimming Pool.
The Council was due in the Court of Session this autumn, after a number of petitions were brought on behalf of Granite City residents.
In order to avoid further legal action, the local authority will now canvass the public to gauge their opinion- and complete a full impact assessment on each of the closures.
Campaigners hope that public support will lead to the closures being reversed.
In a statement, Hayden Lorimer, a campaigner with Save Aberdeen Libraries, hailed the consultation as a much needed “reprieve.”
He commented: “It’s a shame it took legal action to hold the council to account but our protests have finally been heard, vindicating our campaign against the closure of the six libraries and Bucksburn Swimming Pool.”
“We expect the council to genuinely reflect on the results of proper public consultation in future impact assessments and demonstrate how their decisions align with the Equality Act 2010, which has not happened in the case of the libraries and Bucksburn Swimming Pool.”
Kirsty Fraser, a campaigner with Save Bucksburn Swimming Pool, added:
“It will be very difficult for Aberdeen City Council and Sport Aberdeen to justify sticking to the decision to close them when considering the public consultation responses and the equality impact assessments, as the impact to our communities are vast and profound.
"It is vital for members of the public to engage in these processes and let the council know what the closures mean to them. This is our chance to make a difference."
Protests against the closures were loud and persistent
As we reported in early May, a number of service users have been negatively affected by the closures, including several with disabilities or mobility issues.
Hundreds protested against the closures throughout the spring, with over 15,000 residents signing petitions calling for the Council to reopen the facilities.
Despite opposition councillors continually raising the issue, the SNP/LIb Dem administration insisted that the closures, predicated by a need to find 47 million pounds in savings, were final.
What will happen next?
It remains to be seen if the results of the public consultation, which will be presented at a December meeting, will sway Council decision makers.
However, with fears of another 40 million pound budget shortfall this spring, it's unclear what resources the Council is willing to commit to reopen the facilities.
In a statement, a Council spokesperson noted: “Aberdeen City Council acknowledges the outcome of discussions with the Petitioners and will assess the implications. A report on the subject is due to Full Council in December.”