The campaign group Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has decided to step back from further legal action against Gloucestershire County Council.
FoGL had been battling the local authority for the past two years in an attempt to keep a number of libraries open, retain their opening hours, and save a mobile library service. Winning a judicial review action last November, the group has claimed several victories, including saving four of 11 libraries which were earmarked for closure, and maintaining minimum opening hours at 12 rather than three hours a week.
However, in a statement on their website the group said that “following an uphill struggle in getting their voices heard by the administration and senior officers”, they have decided not to pursue any further county-wide legal action. Instead, they will continue to raise questions about GCC’s revised library strategy, addressing their concerns directly to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
In the statement, a spokesman said: “We are very proud of what FoGL has achieved over the past two years. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the FoGL campaign, both from within Gloucestershire and across the UK who have shown that people use, love and value their public libraries, and will not lose them without a fight.”
FoGL also criticised the council's library plans once again, saying: "Seven public libraries are still closing, including in deprived areas and in areas where library usage is high. We have strong doubts as to whether the equalities impacts of these library closures and service reductions have been adequately considered and addressed. These plans are now being implemented and there remains a real danger that some of our county’s most vulnerable residents will lose out on access to this important and cost effective public service, which pre-cuts, cost GCC just 1% of its annual budget."
Meanwhile in Suffolk, the county council today transferred control of their entire library service to an Industrial and Provident Society, which will now take responsibility for all 44 libraries across the county. None of the libraries have closed, and staff, who are transitioning with the handover, are not being replaced with volunteers.
Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “The future of all of Suffolk’s libraries is secure. That is something I am immensely proud and pleased to be able to say.”