Library cuts halted in Somerset

A series of funding cuts to libraries in Somerset has been halted, after the High Court found they did not comply with equality laws.

The move saves 11 libraries, ensures four mobile libraries will be reinstated and opening hours at 23 libraries will increase, the BBC reports. About £600,000 will be spent on self-service technology.

Christine Lawrence, Somerset County Council's cabinet member for community services, said the technology would help modernise the service. She added: "However, given the extreme financial pressures all council services are under, we still need to consider the future funding and shape of libraries and this decision sets out the process by which that can happen."

A High Court judicial review in November found the cuts should not go ahead because they were unlawful under the council's obligation to provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service for all those wishing to use it". Judge Martin McKenna said the library closures did not comply with "public sector equality duties" owed to vulnerable social groups.

A council spokesman said the library service would be reviewed, along with all the authority's services, over the next 18 months.