News

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.”"
 

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This excellent result is a call for us all to keep the pressure up. We won this on equalities legislation, so now maybe we can make some useful suggestions to the councils.

As Sure Start funding looks under attack, and as youth clubs, and elderly pop in places are closed, maybe some libraries can come to the rescue. They already do a splendid job with story time for young children, and some libraries have get-togethers for the elderly as well as after school clubs. I saw great evidence of that as I, along with John Dougherty and many other authors visited as many Gloucestershire libraries as we could in one day last winter.

It's a tragedy that some of our local taxpayer funds will have to go to pay for this legal battle, but we who support libraries also support care for the vulnerable. We now need the council to work WITH the electorate to find ways of making the best use of the resources that we have in our county.

Well done to the Bookseller for their staunch support of the Libraries Campaign.
Fiona Kirton
PR Somerset Campaign

It seems that at least some of the Judiciary are not hell bent on obeying the Governments wishes. The Isle of Wight Campaigners were refused a Judicial Review even though most of the points raised were the very similar to those raised by Gloucestershire & Somerset. The general feeling at our hearing was that the judge was biased towards the IW Council. Lets hope Brent win their appeal, this must offer hope to those still fighting cuts and closures. Keep up the fight, local councils must be made to realise that they were elected to represent the wishes and needs their electorate, and not to do what they think will be best for themsevlves!

Keep up the fight! Well done! Southampton Council announced yesterday its plans to privatise all council services. We are still fighting the tories here and will go on doing so

Lets keep party politics out of this - its about maintaining an effective public library system for those that need to make use of it for whatever resason and at whatever point of their lives. Some of the worst excesses are from Labour Councils eg Brent

I am certainly in favour of keeping libraries open, and am sure there are other ways of saving the money needed for these councils to balance their budgets.

But this cost £100k in the courts.

And nobody wants any other public service cut either. Nor do we want our taxes increased.

This is a bit limiting, isn't it? Should the people who won this campaign, including the legal support, now be asked to decide where the £3+ million could better be saved? Or am I asking the unwelcome question here?

Peter,

The fact is that these County Councils claim they do not have the funds to run our library service but they can manage to find £100,000 for costly legal challenges. They were warned REPEATEDLY that they were breaking the law and they would not listen. For your information we have never said that libraries cannot make savings but what they were doing was UNLAWFUL. And why are you asking us to make 3 million pounds of savings? Direct that question back to central government because that is where it needs answering.

Friends of Gloucesterhsire Libraries

This excellent result is a call for us all to keep the pressure up. We won this on equalities legislation, so now maybe we can make some useful suggestions to the councils.

As Sure Start funding looks under attack, and as youth clubs, and elderly pop in places are closed, maybe some libraries can come to the rescue. They already do a splendid job with story time for young children, and some libraries have get-togethers for the elderly as well as after school clubs. I saw great evidence of that as I, along with John Dougherty and many other authors visited as many Gloucestershire libraries as we could in one day last winter.

It's a tragedy that some of our local taxpayer funds will have to go to pay for this legal battle, but we who support libraries also support care for the vulnerable. We now need the council to work WITH the electorate to find ways of making the best use of the resources that we have in our county.

Well done to the Bookseller for their staunch support of the Libraries Campaign.
Fiona Kirton
PR Somerset Campaign

It seems that at least some of the Judiciary are not hell bent on obeying the Governments wishes. The Isle of Wight Campaigners were refused a Judicial Review even though most of the points raised were the very similar to those raised by Gloucestershire & Somerset. The general feeling at our hearing was that the judge was biased towards the IW Council. Lets hope Brent win their appeal, this must offer hope to those still fighting cuts and closures. Keep up the fight, local councils must be made to realise that they were elected to represent the wishes and needs their electorate, and not to do what they think will be best for themsevlves!

Keep up the fight! Well done! Southampton Council announced yesterday its plans to privatise all council services. We are still fighting the tories here and will go on doing so

Lets keep party politics out of this - its about maintaining an effective public library system for those that need to make use of it for whatever resason and at whatever point of their lives. Some of the worst excesses are from Labour Councils eg Brent

I am certainly in favour of keeping libraries open, and am sure there are other ways of saving the money needed for these councils to balance their budgets.

But this cost £100k in the courts.

And nobody wants any other public service cut either. Nor do we want our taxes increased.

This is a bit limiting, isn't it? Should the people who won this campaign, including the legal support, now be asked to decide where the £3+ million could better be saved? Or am I asking the unwelcome question here?

Peter,

The fact is that these County Councils claim they do not have the funds to run our library service but they can manage to find £100,000 for costly legal challenges. They were warned REPEATEDLY that they were breaking the law and they would not listen. For your information we have never said that libraries cannot make savings but what they were doing was UNLAWFUL. And why are you asking us to make 3 million pounds of savings? Direct that question back to central government because that is where it needs answering.

Friends of Gloucesterhsire Libraries