Hereford at risk of library closures
Herefordshire Council is du...
ACE's Ashley: libraries 'good at adapting'
Arts Council England’...
Frances Lincoln to explore Portobello Road
Frances Lincoln has acquire...
Manchester library closures to go ahead
Six libraries in Manchester...
Webb joins battle for Southend libraries
Rights People's Alex We...
Judge quashes Surrey Council library move
03.05.12 | Katie Allen
Surrey County Council's decision to remove paid staff from 10 of its libraries has been quashed.
Mr Justice Wilkie made a Court Order yesterday (2nd May) to quash the decision, which would have meant the libraries would have to be kept open by volunteers.
The order brings to a close an application for judicial review brought by Surrey residents Lucy Williams and Nicholas Dorrington, alleging that the council had failed to discharge its public sector equality duties under the Equality Act 2010.
Dorrington said today: "I’m glad Surrey County Council realise that they have wasted tens of thousands of rate-payers' pounds on a half-baked scheme and subsequently defending their incompetence in court. If they want to re-examine the issue they must consult properly and involve the users of community libraries at every stage of the process and be prepared to compromise."
Mr Justice Wilkie declared the council’s decision unlawful in April, saying actions by the council had fallen "substantially short" of enabling cabinet members to give proper regard to an "obvious equality issue". However the council said at the time it was "pleased that a High Court judge had not criticised its libraries plans meaning the proposals could still go ahead". The council argued that Mr Justice Wilkie had upheld "a technical challenge" brought by protesters.
Solicitor Daniel Carey of Public Interest Lawyers, said today: " I am pleased that the council’s library decision has now been quashed. Any fresh decision must take full account of the council’s equalities duties and provide a professional service accessible to all."
Surrey Council said that it would consider its libraries plans at a council meeting on 19th June and that it was about to begin a consultation to ask library-users what equalities training they think should be provided for volunteers at community-partnered libraries.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for community services and the 2012 games, said: “Today’s order brings the court proceedings to close. We’ve agreed that the best course of action is to take the libraries plans back to cabinet and make the decision again, with all the information we need about volunteer training . . .
“I’d urge people to give us their views in this latest consultation so we can further enhance the training package we have created.
“We want everyone to enjoy using Surrey’s libraries. Our aim all along has been to keep all 52 branches open and allowing communities to run libraries would enable us to this.”