The Telegraph’s Martin Chilton mentioned Voices for the Library in yesterday’s piece Library campaigners helped by Nick Cave. The article highlights the success and celebrity endorsements of campaigns against public library cuts in places such as Gloucestershire, the Isle of White, Brent, Kensal Rise, and Oxfordshire.
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.”
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.”
On Sunday “The Politics Show” (BBC1) will be discussing the implications of these legal actions for campaigners and local councils around the country.
On 26th March 2011, the TUC (Trades Union Congress) organised a protest march and rally in London against cuts in public services. A few hundred thousand people turned up to show their support – a diverse range of people from all social spectrums in Britain. Many came as part of union groups, but others came without affiliation to any union. As we know cuts aren’t just affecting libraries, they are across the all public services, but it was great to hear so many library campaigners had taken part… all fighting and standing up for library services in their local area, but at the same time coming together with everyone else to point out that these cuts are destroying library services nationally… all coming together to say that we aren’t going to let it happen.
Voices For The Library were represented there too – standing up for libraries amongst the mass of the peaceful protest… amongst the banners and placards exclaiming “No to cuts!”
A number of people have written down their thoughts on the march from a library campaigners perspective and here are a few of them. They include members of Voices For The Library as well as other campaigners.
Let’s hope that this protest has a positive impact on the future of public libraries and other public services.
Robert Jeyes Library, Chadwell Heath
I would like to voice my concerns about this library being on the list for possible closure. Firstly, the staff are so helpful and knowledgeable and work hard for not very much.
Secondly, this lovely library has been a vital community resource for me in my time of living in Chadwell Heath. As a tax payer including (council tax!) I have used this resource a lot when I had my baby and took him in the early years to the Toy Library and mother/toddler groups. My son now six adores getting books to read and we have read
hundreds which I know has provided a foundation for his love of learning and discovery. I have also been able to read books invaluable to me with all aspects of busy life in the twentieth century which is full of change and often uncertainty.
I also used this resource when I had employment dilemmas after having my child and was so grateful for internet access when I could not afford it in my home in the past. As I mentioned about being a tax payer – working full time makes it difficult to find time to do many other things and I do not use many other community resources so I would be very disappointed if it closes as I pay my taxes for this!!
Lastly, I think it is unacceptable to expect residents to travel to the Heathway to access a library. Chadwell Heath residents do not have hardly any of the council resources in our vicinity and I wish to protest against any closure.