Somerset and Gloucs library closures "unlawful"

The High Court has ruled that proposed library closures in Somerset and Gloucestershire were unlawful.

The ruling follows three days of judicial review in September. Judge McKenna ruled this morning (16th November) that both Somerset and Gloucestershire councils failed to take account of their equality duties when pushing through the cuts. He quashed the decision to close the libraries and awarded costs to the residents. He also refused permission to appeal the decision.

He said: "In order to discharge their respective duties, Gloucester County Council and Somerset County Council should have undertaken a sufficient and thorough information-gathering exercise and then properly analysed the data. In this case I conclude both [councils] failed to comply in that obligation."

Daniel Carey, of Public Interest Lawyers, who represented the residents, said: "Today's High Court ruling sends a clear message not only to Gloucestershire and Somerset councils but to every council in the country, that catering for the needs of the vulnerable must be at the heart of every decision to cut important services such as libraries."

Gloucestershire had proposed to withdraw funding for 10 of 38 libraries and remove the mobile service. Somerset had planned funding cuts for 11 of 34 libraries and four of its six mobile library services have already gone.

CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger said: "People need libraries to support them in literacy and skills development, access to knowledge, and finding the information that they need to live successful lives. This ruling recognises that communities need libraries.”"