News

High Court reviews for library closures

Somerset and Gloucestershire county councils have been landed with a judicial review in the High Court over their plans to close over 20 libraries.

Somerset County Council plans to withdraw funding for 11 libraries while Gloucestershire wants to shut the doors to 10, along with four out of six mobile library routes.

Public interest lawyers filed the High Court claim yesterday (3rd May), arguing the councils are in breach of their statutory obligations to provide an "efficient and comprehensive library service" to the public.

The lawyers also allege the councils did not hold proper consultations before the decision to axe the libraries was made. Somerset consulted for only a month, over the Christmas period, and Gloucestershire's consultation process was  still on-going when they made their decision.

One of the claimants, Rebecca Hird, from Watchet in Somerset, said: "It is a disgrace that the library is being closed. Watchet is a small town, and there are very few local amenities remaining since the council closed the youth centres."

Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne said: "Our library strategy goes beyond providing a 'comprehensive and efficient library service'.

 "It's frustrating to be forced into a costly legal process in a difficult financial climate and when we are focusing on supporting the many communities working hard to make a success of running local services."

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: "We are confident that the council has acted appropriately and in the meantime will continue with work needed to implement the budget reduction agreed by full council."

Meanwhile, the East Anglian Daily Times reports that Suffolk County Council has U-turned on its decision to hand over the running of 29 libraries to local community groups—which could have meant the closure of all if no one stepped forward to take responsibility.

Demonstrations against the plans have lead to the council decision to retain ultimate responsibility for running libraries—although communities will have an opportunity to help run individual branches.

While there is no guarantee that all branches will be retained, the EADT reported cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Judy Terry said: "I really hope that all libraries will remain open, ultimately we would like to be able to see new libraries created for  communities across the county."

The libraries are set to be run by a community interest company which will be fully owned by the county council—but will include representatives of communities across Suffolk as well as councillors and officials.
 

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The only thing to have "forced" Cllr Hawthorne into this is his own stubbornness. If he has enough of our money stored away to fund a hugely costly court case then he has enough money to fund our public libraries. This is not about money but politics, ego and ideology. If the plans really do go "beyond providing comprehensive and efficient library service" why have DCMS also been watching GCC closely? It would appear no oneelse shares Hawthorne's apparent confidence.
Shame on GCC.
We want our libraries Mr Hawthorne not a court case.

Anyone who has been following these sagas for many months cannot but be mystified as to some local leaders' interpretation of their public role. Happily, an earlier comment suggests that DCMS is interested in such matters. Will that interest now be piqued sufficiently to prompt the Secretary of State to intervene, or does he continue to "watch" ? The very low profile that the Secretary of State maintains reminds one perhaps of a certain Nero who, just one-thousand nine-hundred years before the Public Libraries and Museums Act came into being, damaged his reputation somewhat during a fire in Rome.

The main problem is the vagueness of the PLM Act - it can't be used to prevent closures as they can always argue that there is still a service even if several branches have been closed and staff made redundant.

A woman gives the children in her care only a lettuce leaf to share each day, adding a radish on some high-days and holidays. The nippers then die. The Coroner rules that a diet of lettuce is insufficent; that the radish was irrelevant; and that the existence of a supermarket some distance away did not play a role in preventing the babes' untimely demise. His written judgment also names and censures those vested with fiduciary and statutory duties; identifies their failure to invoke precedent; describes their inaction and lame excuses as "wilful" and questions their motives. The case continues.

They cannot continue to hide behind the supposed vagueness of the Public Libraries Act - and it sounds like the lawyers agree.
The councils are also being taken to court for failing to consult properly and for not paying due regard to their equality duties

http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/news_details.php?id=77

Glos County Council are withdrawing services from the poorest in our communities and have based the cuts on geographic spread and some usage figures alone

http://foclibrary.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/indices-of-deprivation-and-gc...

Very important that citizens' allegations of injustices and maladministration are addressed by means of these court actions. That is 100% a given.

The behaviour of politicians and officials in Somerset, in Gloucestershire, in the Department of Culture and in other places has been nothing less than disgraceful. It shames our country and nobody should hide from what has been done.

When we talk about reform of the political system and of the conduct of those upon whom we depend for governance, this area of so-called localism should be put under intense scrutiny. It should be changed- and radically. Those who content themselves to behave in the miserable, sordid way these inept, but highly paid, politocrats, both in the regions and in London, have clearly done, should be exposed and dealt with - with the scorn and contempt they merit.

Let us now hope that instead of hiding behind each other, as they will doubtless continue to attempt to do, a judge will ensure that the wretched dealings are condemned as they need to be and in an appropriate manner.

Well done to those who have campaigned, endured and persevered for bringing this case - we all owe you a hugh debt of honour and gratitude. You are the heroes

They shouldn't be closing down libraries. Having a library in town is a blessing for everybody. Why don't they close the bars instead.
http://orangeseweranddrain.com/

Children and young people should be encouraged to read and libraries can be a big help for this.

The Government should allot a budget for libraries in every city or town.

But there are some government officials who uses their power just to corrupt.

The only thing to have "forced" Cllr Hawthorne into this is his own stubbornness. If he has enough of our money stored away to fund a hugely costly court case then he has enough money to fund our public libraries. This is not about money but politics, ego and ideology. If the plans really do go "beyond providing comprehensive and efficient library service" why have DCMS also been watching GCC closely? It would appear no oneelse shares Hawthorne's apparent confidence.
Shame on GCC.
We want our libraries Mr Hawthorne not a court case.

Anyone who has been following these sagas for many months cannot but be mystified as to some local leaders' interpretation of their public role. Happily, an earlier comment suggests that DCMS is interested in such matters. Will that interest now be piqued sufficiently to prompt the Secretary of State to intervene, or does he continue to "watch" ? The very low profile that the Secretary of State maintains reminds one perhaps of a certain Nero who, just one-thousand nine-hundred years before the Public Libraries and Museums Act came into being, damaged his reputation somewhat during a fire in Rome.

The main problem is the vagueness of the PLM Act - it can't be used to prevent closures as they can always argue that there is still a service even if several branches have been closed and staff made redundant.

A woman gives the children in her care only a lettuce leaf to share each day, adding a radish on some high-days and holidays. The nippers then die. The Coroner rules that a diet of lettuce is insufficent; that the radish was irrelevant; and that the existence of a supermarket some distance away did not play a role in preventing the babes' untimely demise. His written judgment also names and censures those vested with fiduciary and statutory duties; identifies their failure to invoke precedent; describes their inaction and lame excuses as "wilful" and questions their motives. The case continues.

They cannot continue to hide behind the supposed vagueness of the Public Libraries Act - and it sounds like the lawyers agree.
The councils are also being taken to court for failing to consult properly and for not paying due regard to their equality duties

http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/news_details.php?id=77

Glos County Council are withdrawing services from the poorest in our communities and have based the cuts on geographic spread and some usage figures alone

http://foclibrary.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/indices-of-deprivation-and-gc...

Very important that citizens' allegations of injustices and maladministration are addressed by means of these court actions. That is 100% a given.

The behaviour of politicians and officials in Somerset, in Gloucestershire, in the Department of Culture and in other places has been nothing less than disgraceful. It shames our country and nobody should hide from what has been done.

When we talk about reform of the political system and of the conduct of those upon whom we depend for governance, this area of so-called localism should be put under intense scrutiny. It should be changed- and radically. Those who content themselves to behave in the miserable, sordid way these inept, but highly paid, politocrats, both in the regions and in London, have clearly done, should be exposed and dealt with - with the scorn and contempt they merit.

Let us now hope that instead of hiding behind each other, as they will doubtless continue to attempt to do, a judge will ensure that the wretched dealings are condemned as they need to be and in an appropriate manner.

Well done to those who have campaigned, endured and persevered for bringing this case - we all owe you a hugh debt of honour and gratitude. You are the heroes

They shouldn't be closing down libraries. Having a library in town is a blessing for everybody. Why don't they close the bars instead.
http://orangeseweranddrain.com/

Children and young people should be encouraged to read and libraries can be a big help for this.

The Government should allot a budget for libraries in every city or town.

But there are some government officials who uses their power just to corrupt.