Judicial review into Lincolnshire library cuts to begin

Save Lincs Libraries braced for High Court date
Save Lincs Libraries braced for High Court date
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Campaigners against cuts to Lincolnshire’s libraries are preparing to challenge the controversial decision in the High Court.

A judicial review into Lincolnshire County Council’s library cuts begins at the High Court at 10.30am tomorrow (Tuesday). In December the council agreed to withdraw funding from 32 static libraries and axe more than 100 staff.

Among those to lose its funding was Deepings Library in Market Deeping.

Ten members of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign will be attending the hearing and say the result of the case could prove key for similar groups throughout the country.

Lincoln resident Simon Draper is challenging the council’s decision on four grounds. They are:

* Lincolnshire County council will no longer be providing a comprehensive and efficient library service as required by section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act,

* The consultation process was unlawful on the grounds that the outcome of consultation had been pre-determined and the basis of the information given for it was misleading,

* The council failed to give proper consideration to the needs of vulnerable people including the elderly, children and disabled people as required under the Equalities Act,

* The council did not give sufficient consideration to the bid from Greenwich Leisure to run the library service as required under the Localism Act.

Campaign spokesman John Hough said: “This Judicial Review is important not only for Lincolnshire but for the public library service across the country.

“If any council can take upon itself the power to decide what a statutory library service is, there will be no protection for public libraries in the future.

“We believe that Lincolnshire County Council has tried to find a way round the Libraries and Museums Act so as to provide the minimum level of publicly professionally run libraries it can get away with.

“It ignored the overwhelming public opposition to its proposals to demolish and destroy the important and highly valued service that it had provided.”

The campaign group feels the council is sitting on money in its reserves that ought to have been spent on the libraries.

The council had said the cuts had to be made and would save £2 million. It encouraged volunteer groups to come forward and run their libraries.

Last week a group called Friends of Deepings Library learned their own bid had been accepted by the council. Members of the group have always maintained that a volunteer-run library would be a last resort.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners will report on key developments from the hearing through social media with the hashtag #LibraryJudicialReview.

The group’s Twitter account can be found at @SaveLincsLibraries and their Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/savelincslibraries/.