Update on legal action for libraries

Library campaigning moved up a gear recently, with announcements about legal challenges coming in from a variety of locations throughout the country.

Brent : Campaigners in Brent received legal permission to have a judicial review in the High Court in just a couple of weeks’ time.  This, if the funding for the case is found by the campaigners, will be the first into court and will set the vital “precedent on library closures across the country.” The review will start on July 19th.

Isle of Wight : Campaigners on the Isle of Wight have been told they will receive funding to go to court and there apply for a judicial review. The case will be funded on grounds that cuts breach the “comprehensive and efficient” requirement of the 1964 Act and also that an equalities impact assessment was not done. Leigh Day solicitors say “We have advised our client that she has a good case and expect the Court to grant permission for a full judicial review.”

Somerset : A local library user  is taking legal action against Somerset County Council’s move to close 11 libraries in October, unless volunteers step forward to run them.

The above information was taken from the Public Libraries News site and further details of the campaigns can be found there.

Gloucestershire : Voices For The Library were pleased to hear yesterdays announcement that there will be a judicial high court review of cuts to Gloucestershire library services. The review was granted on all three of the grounds made by the claimant. Delighted Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries commented that “This scrutiny has never been allowed within GCC’s own procedures, where party politics has appeared to be prioritised before the needs and concerns of service users.”

(More details here)

Not only are these actions giving hope to the above campaigners, but also to campaigners throughout the country. The cases highlight the fact that in some cases there are enough grounds to question library closures and that local authorities should take note and consider their actions with them in mind. As Doncaster campaigners stated, in regard to cuts being proposed by their local council:  “At the very least, DMBC ought to put a halt to its plans to close libraries, make staff redundant and cut opening hours until a precedent has been set by these legal challenges.”

(More details here)

On Sunday “The Politics Show” (BBC1) will be discussing the implications of these legal actions for campaigners and local councils around the country.

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