Campaigners begin legal battle over Surrey library cuts

Campaigners begin legal battle over Surrey library cuts

Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) has become the latest library campaign to begin legal action against its county council, initiating action against Surrey County Council over its plans to staff ten of the counties' 52 libraries with volunteers, calling their future into question if not enough library volunteers are found.

Public Interest Lawyers sent a pre-action protocol letter on 30th December to SCC c.e.o. David McNulty for the purposes of a judicial review.

A statement posted on the SLAM campaigners' website said: "We are challenging SCC's decision-making process and their lack of scrutiny, both of which we believe to be inadequate and unlawful. We have taken this action with great reluctance, having exhausted all other means of trying to hold SCC to account over their library plans."

It added: "We have also become exasperated at SCC's avoidance of any discussion or consultation with Surrey residents on the library plans, and also the council's increasing hostility towards legitimate protest—blocking SLAM's emails, and witholding information in relation to Freedom of Information requests, to name just two examples."

The statement called for donations to its "fighting fund" in order to continue with the legal action, with organisers saying this felt they had been "given no other choice than to hold SCC to account by pursuing legal action".

The libraries due to be run by volunteers are Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, and Warlingham. They will operate as a pilot in financial year 2012-13 so their success can be assessed.

Surrey County Council had earlier reversed a decision to hand over a further nine libraries in Surrey to volunteers. It also had to put a stop to councillors filtering emails from the SLAM chair, Mike Alsop.