Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to close the majority of its libraries will be scrutinised in a judicial review.
Campaign group Save Lincolnshire Libraries has been granted permission by a High Court judge to challenge the council’s decision to withdraw funding from 32 of its 47 libraries.
Among those that will to close unless volunteer groups take over are Deepings Library in High Street, Market Deeping.
Deeping St James county councillor Phil Dilks (Lab), who is part of Save Lincolnshire Libraries, revealed today (Tuesday) that the judicial review had been approved.
Coun Dilks said the judge did not restrict the grounds of challenge. As a result all four reasons put forward by the campaign group will be considered by the High Court.
- The consultation was unlawful as the decision had already been taken
- The council failed to ensure any harm that was going to be caused by their decision was prevented, as required by the Equality Act
- The council failed to properly consider a proposal by Greenwich Leisure Limited, a not-for-profit agency which bid to run the library service. As a result the council failed in its duties under the Localism Act
- If the cuts went ahead Lincolnshire’s library service would no longer be comprehensive and efficient and therefore would breach the national requirements
Documents for the judicial review were submitted to the High Court by Public Interest Lawyers on behalf of Simon Draper, of Lincoln. These were followed by a number of submissions from the council.
A date for the review has not yet been set.
Coun Dilks 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. Twenty five thousand 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.”
The council’s executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) 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.
“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.
“Our focus now is on preparing the strongest possible case, while continuing to keep in close contact with the communities wanting to become involved in running library services.”