Lincolnshire library campaigners get judicial review go-ahead

Lincolnshire library campaigners get judicial review go-ahead

A full judicial review into Lincolnshire's library cuts has been given the go ahead by the High Court.

The challenge has been brought against the county council's plans to cut the county's library service budget by £2m.

Simon Draper, a Lincoln resident, submitted the the request for a judicial review with Public Interest Lawyers, contesting the council's plans on four grounds; that the consultation held on the proposed library cuts was unlawful, as a decision had already been taken; that the council failed to ensure that harm caused by their decision would be prevented, as required by the Equality Act; that the council failed to properly consider a bid to run the service from not-for-profit Greenwich Leisure Limited; and that if the cuts go ahead, the county's library service will no longer be comprehensive and efficient, breaching statutory requirements.

A judge has now ruled that here is enough evidence for the case to go the High Court for a full judicial hearing, and issued an order giving permission for the case to be heard. A date has yet to be set.

Draper said: "I very much welcome the judge’s decision as she has clearly recognised the strength of our case. I appeal to the County Council to immediately put a stop to its savage cuts to the Library Service so that no more damage is caused before the High Court is able to hear our case."

Paul Heron of Public Interest Lawyers said: "Whilst we welcome this decision, we call on Lincolnshire County Council to look at their decision and to think again. Instead of passing on cuts they should be spending their time looking at ways of how to defend jobs and services in the County, not ways of how best to cut them

Phil Dilks, a spokesman for Save Lincolnshire Libraries said: "The attack on libraries by the County Council has gone on long enough. With the Judge having decided that the case should go to Judicial Review, which we welcome, the Council needs to come to its senses and listen to the people of Lincolnshire. 25,000 people have signed our petition. It’s about time the Council listened to them. They should stop sacking staff and cutting library hours and work to provide a proper library service for the future."

However councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries at Lincolnshire County Council, defended the council's decisions, and said: “This now means that all the issues raised by the claimant will be tested in the court. However, we’re determined to defend our decision at the full hearing. We remain convinced that all the necessary steps needed to make a lawful decision were taken, along with extensive consultation and a thorough consideration of the impact on our residents."

He added: "Under our plans, we’re likely to end up with more library provision than we have now, empowered communities and substantial savings - it would be a real shame to miss out on all this because of this challenge."