Library cuts reversed in Somerset

Library cuts reversed in Somerset

Somerset County Council has confirmed it is reversing its library cuts programme following the High Court judgement at judicial review in November that it had breached equalities legislation.

According to a press report on local news site Yeovil People, the council has confirmed that plans to cut funding for 11 Somerset libraries have now been halted, while opening hours in 23 libraries, reduced by 20% in recent months, will be reinstated. The mobile library service, reduced from six vehicles to two, is also being reinstated.

A council spokesman said: "We accept the [High Court] judgement and are working on reinstating services." However he added: "The council still needs to consider the future funding of the library service in light of the current financial climate and the fact that all other services are being reviewed over the next 18 months, remembering that we were aiming to save £1.35m over three years."

The county council has called in experts from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to review the way it makes decisions.

Meanwhile Gloucestershire campaign group Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries say they have offered their county council "an olive branch" by providing a guidance document on how to undertake its new library review, after Gloucestershire's library programme was also found to be unlawful at the High Court.

FoGL member John Holland said: “We are genuinely trying to help the county council. It is to no one’s advantage if the county council again proposes deeply unpopular cuts which fall foul of the law. No one wants another court case."