The Week Ahead (11th November-17th November)

This Parliamentary week began with work in the constituency office on Monday, followed by a Hogmanay launch on Tuesday morning, and the usual parliamentary team meeting.  In the afternoon, I’ll be attending a meeting ahead of the Members’ Business Debate on Moray Library closures as well as our weekly Independent/Green Group meeting.  The rest of my afternoon will be busy, with two further meetings and a speaking slot in the City of Culture debate at Parliament.  I’ll end Tuesday with a visit to the Edinburgh Napier University Merchiston Campus.

On Wednesday, I’ll begin with my usual attendance of the Finance Committee, of which I am a member.  In the afternoon, I’ll be attending an information session with Scottish Water, then going to the University of Strathclyde to chair a session of an event on the Constitution of an Independent Scotland.  I’ll be back in Edinburgh to attend a Visit Scotland event at the Parliament, then a Polish-Scottish multimedia showcase opening.

Thursday will begin with an STV breakfast reception, followed by meetings with various organisations.  In the afternoon, I’ll be attending an event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, another on levels of debt in Scotland, and the Stage 3 debate on the Independence Referendum Bill.

On Friday I’ll be in Forres for the A96 duelling exhibition, and then travelling back to Ullapool for the launch of Lesley Riddoch’s new book, Blossom.

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Motion: Condemning Moray Council Library Closures

That the Parliament condemns Moray Council’s decision to close seven rural libraries; notes that the closure of the libraries, based in Burghead, Cullen, Dufftown, Findochty, Hopeman, Portknockie and Rothes, was subject to an equality impact assessment (EIA), which recommended retaining three of the libraries; understands that, despite opposition plans to keep all seven open or to keep the three libraries highlighted in the EIA open, the council administration pressed ahead in closing all seven; considers this decision to be a short-sighted penny-pinching one that will harm the cultural and societal fabric of some of Moray’s more remote communities by removing a hub used by some of society’s most vulnerable groups; notes that the EIA expressed concerns that “the council could be at risk of falling short of its statutory duty to secure adequate library provision and would thereby be exposed to legal challenge by way of judicial review”; believes that this decision, coupled with an earlier decision by Moray Council to cut its arts budget entirely, demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of the arts to society and may, if challenged, cost more money through legal challenge than is saved by the closures in the first place, and calls on Moray Council to reconsider the closures as a matter of urgency.