Urgent! Your help needed for nationwide library closure challenge

Law firm Leigh Day & Co. have launched a library closure challenge on behalf of Campaign for the Book.

Voices for the Library have been asked to gather as much evidence as possible to demonstrate that local authorities are breaching their legal duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service.

Campaign for the Book organiser Alan Gibbons said:

“I have asked Leigh Day solicitors to pursue the Campaign’s concerns over the possibility of a large scale withdrawal of funds from public libraries. I think it is vital that the Courts examine the legality of the Secretary of State’s approach on the provision of libraries in England and Wales. He has a duty to ensure that councils provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. I believe that he is failing in that duty.”

The Campaign for the Book is an umbrella body that attempts to raise the profile of reading for pleasure and supports libraries and librarians.

Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day & Co Solicitors, who are acting for Campaign for the Book said:

“The duties under the 1964 Act require the Secretary of State to investigate and compel, if necessary, local authorities, to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service in their area. The current cuts to public libraries across the country demonstrate that he is failing to do this.”

We need as much information as possible from all over the country to show the court that the proposed closures are resulting in a less than comprehensive and efficient library service. Some examples of what information would be useful are:

  • Library reviews undertaken by the council
  • Statements from the council announcing closures
  • Minutes from Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Cabinet Meetings or Council Meetings
  • Letters from local campaign groups
  • Letters from residents
  • Information about literacy rates, deprivation statistics, demographics
  • Evidence that the council has failed to conduct an Equalities Impact Assessment or looked into local public transport networks

Please send any information to Voices For The Library – we will organise this information by library authority and send it on to Leigh Day.

Deadline for submissions: 30th March 2011

Any individuals or campaigns who would like to explore legally challenging closure decisions in their area are welcome to contact Rosa Curling at Leigh Day & Co.