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Gloucestershire library campaigners invoice DCMS
02.06.11 | Benedicte Page
The campaign group Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has made a stinging attack on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, culture minister Ed Vaizey and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over their collective failure to act over library closures in the county.
The campaigners have written to Hunt and Vaizey to ask for the DCMS' outsourcing invoice address, "seeing as you have outsourced to the people of Gloucestershire your responsibilities to superintend the delivery of statutory library services".
The campaigners say they intend to direct an invoice of £30,000 to the DCMS, that being the sum they are being asked to pay for legal fees to challenge the county council's plans through judicial review.
"Please also can you also reimburse the travel expenses and the time taken off work to the four representatives of the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries who weeks ago came to London and spelt out to your officials the many fundamental flaws in the county council's plans and conduct, which your department have so far failed to act on, despite our highlighting of the urgency of the matter many times," the letter continues.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has a legal duty under the 1964 Public Libraries Act to superintend the provision of a "comprehensive and efficient" library service by councils to their residents, but despite widespread closure plans has yet to intervene.
Meanwhile library campaigners seeking to challenge closures through judicial review are being asked for large contributions to the legal fees, even where claimants qualify for legal aid, on the grounds that the whole community will benefit from libraries being saved and therefore a "community contribution" must be levied.