Group launches legal fight against Lincolnshire library cuts

Protest march against the closure of Lincolnshire libraries
Protest march against the closure of Lincolnshire libraries
Have your say

Campaigners fighting a council’s plan to close most of its libraries have taken their case to the High Court.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries has requested a judicial review into Lincolnshire County Council’s plans to close 32 of its 47 libraries. The council decided to make the cuts to its service in an attempt to save £2m.

The claim was filed in the High Court in London on January 29. The review asks the court to issue an order quashing the council’s decision to reduce its library provision. Among the libraries due to close is Deepings Library, in High Street, Market Deeping.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries has come up with four reasons for the judicial review to take place.

First, it claims the consultation that preceded the decision was unlawful. Second, it claims the council failed to take due regard of its obligations under the Public Sector Equality Duty as required by the Equality Act 2010.

Third, it claims the council failed to properly consider the proposal by charitable social enterprise Greenwich Leisure to take over the whole library service.

And fourth it claims that if the cuts go ahead, the county council library service will no longer be comprehensive and efficient, as required by the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.

The request for a judicial review was issued by Public Interest Lawyers, of Eight Hylton Street, Birmingham, on behalf of Simon Draper of Lincoln.

Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) said: “We’ve only recently received the details of the claim, and are now beginning to consider our response.

“Before the decision was made, the council carried out extensive consultation and thoroughly considered the impact on our residents. So we’ll be presenting the strongest possible defence, showing that all the necessary steps needed to make a lawful decision were taken.

“In light of this, it is our intention to continue the implementation of the changes and to work with communities that have expressed an interest in working with us to deliver library services across the county.”

Last month campaigners in the Deepings put forward an expression of interest to run their library, led by Market Deeping Town Council and Deeping St James Parish Council.

The councils said they felt forced into putting in the expression of interest, and were only doing so in order to keep the library open while other options were considered.

Deeping St James parish council chairman Andy Pelling welcomed the judicial review, accusing the county council of making false promises. He said: “For small villages, a community library run by volunteers may be possible but for a community the size of the Deepings it is a ludicrous proposal.”