News

Library campaigners win right to judicial review over closures

A judicial review into the proposed closure of 10 libraries in Gloucestershire should go ahead, a court has ruled today. The ruling means that the injunction in place preventing Gloucestershire County Council making any further closures is to remain, with the hearing likely to take place at the end of September. In a further boost to library campaigners, library users on the Isle of Wight have had their bid for a High Court judicial review put back on track, after a resident found out she would be granted legal aid. Five of the 11 libraries in the Isle of Wight have been threatened with closure by the Isle of Wight Council.

Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day & Co solicitors, which is representing campaigners in the Isle of Wight, said in a statement: “Now that legal aid funding has been granted, we are preparing to issue legal proceedings at the High Court in London on behalf of a local resident to challenge the council’s decision to reduce the opening hours of some libraries and to stop running others. We have advised our client that she has a good case and expect the court to grant permission for a full judicial review.” It remains unclear what contribution the Legal Services Commission has asked the campaigners to make to legal costs.

Meanwhile, solicitors have told campaigners the High Court date for the judicial review of library closures in Brent has been set for 19th and 20th July. Six Libraries in Brent have been threatened with closure.

Libraries campaigner Desmond Clarke said the decisions to allow the judicial reviews were “remarkable”. He said: “It is wonderful achievement for the campaigners who have fought bureaucracy, they have got the judges to grant a judicial review and now we hope there will be reviews in the cases of Isle of Wight and Somerset too.”

Gloucestershire campaigner Johanna Anderson said: "We are delighted the judge has agreed we have an argument. It is a novelty to be listened to by an impartial person because we were blocked by the County Council. It should never have come to this, we shouldn’t have had to sit in a courtroom to be listened to."

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire, said: "This outcome is entirely expected and we now await the full hearing, which we understand will focus on examining the process that was followed in the consultation and decision-making. We have said from the outset that it is right to focus our resources on the most vulnerable, and that means difficult decisions about making savings in other areas."

He said the council could continue to "work with the community groups who want to take over library buildings". And added: "This will be our focus in the coming months as we continue to support them to develop their business plans to ensure they can be successful in the long term. We have always been confident in our library strategy. I’m pleased that we only have to wait until September for the full hearing."


 


 

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

This is very good news, not only for our Public Libraries but knowing that the Law can check the worst excesses of power. That is a huge relief. What a shame that the Culture Minister had not done the job himself; perhaps he is chastened, but who knows. But it's not a moment to dwell on his failings and weaknesses, it's one to extend congratulations to the people of Gloucestershire, to the campaigners and to all ordinary individuals who have the courage to put their heads above the parapet and be counted. The day is yours !

well, well, well, astonishing comment from Mr Hawthorne

He says "We have always been confident in our library strategy" then says
"This outcome is entirely expected" the outcome is the outcome because there is a case to be argued that the plans are unlawful - on three counts! hardly warrants "confidence" Mr Hawthorne..in fact the opposite! Does he misunderstand what happened today?

If he expected this I wonder why, in the three weeks since the injunction was first ordered, Mr Hawthorne has been posturing in the press saying he was confident the injunction would be lifted and that GCC would win today.

At last it looks as though the very unwise decisions of councils up and down the country and the "sit on the fence and do nothing" attitude of the Sec of State and Culture minister are at last beginning to unravel. This case and that of Brent in 2 weeks time may well signal the beginning of the end of mass library closures! It time for those councils not yet facing court action to suddenly find that they don't after all need to close libraries, this would save them and their council tax payers large sums of money which could be used to buy more books or employ more library staff! Well done Gloucestershire. The Isle of Wight is behind you (but not by very far)

This is very good news, not only for our Public Libraries but knowing that the Law can check the worst excesses of power. That is a huge relief. What a shame that the Culture Minister had not done the job himself; perhaps he is chastened, but who knows. But it's not a moment to dwell on his failings and weaknesses, it's one to extend congratulations to the people of Gloucestershire, to the campaigners and to all ordinary individuals who have the courage to put their heads above the parapet and be counted. The day is yours !

well, well, well, astonishing comment from Mr Hawthorne

He says "We have always been confident in our library strategy" then says
"This outcome is entirely expected" the outcome is the outcome because there is a case to be argued that the plans are unlawful - on three counts! hardly warrants "confidence" Mr Hawthorne..in fact the opposite! Does he misunderstand what happened today?

If he expected this I wonder why, in the three weeks since the injunction was first ordered, Mr Hawthorne has been posturing in the press saying he was confident the injunction would be lifted and that GCC would win today.

At last it looks as though the very unwise decisions of councils up and down the country and the "sit on the fence and do nothing" attitude of the Sec of State and Culture minister are at last beginning to unravel. This case and that of Brent in 2 weeks time may well signal the beginning of the end of mass library closures! It time for those councils not yet facing court action to suddenly find that they don't after all need to close libraries, this would save them and their council tax payers large sums of money which could be used to buy more books or employ more library staff! Well done Gloucestershire. The Isle of Wight is behind you (but not by very far)