The High Court issues an injunction against Gloucestershire County Council over library closures

Today, Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries were pleased to receive the following news:

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Public Interest Lawyers

Press Release – 17 June 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HIGH COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION AGAINST GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL PREVENTING LIBRARY CLOSURES
________________________________________________________________

The High Court today issued an Injunction against Gloucestershire County Council
stopping its planned library closures in their tracks. Public Interest lawyers obtained the
Injunction as part of the judicial review case being brought on behalf of a
Gloucestershire library user opposing the library cuts. The case has the support of a
large number of Gloucestershire library users.

The Injunction prevents the Council from:

1. Withdrawing funding from any library which it currently funds;
2. Transferring or agreeing to transfer any library building or lease or responsibility
for running any existing library;
3. Transferring or agreeing to transfer any mobile library or other library asset (such
as computers, shelving etc.); and
4. Closing or taking any steps to close any library.

The injunction is effective immediately.

The Injunction preserves the status-quo to allow the Court to fully review the lawfulness
of the Council’s cuts to library provision at a hearing on 7 July 2011. If the challenge is
successful, then it will proceed to a full hearing quickly thereafter.
Until today, Gloucestershire County Council was pressing ahead with the library cuts,
despite strong public opposition with the county. Mobile libraries, issuing over 100,000
books a year to care homes and children in deprived areas were due to be taken out of
action over the next few weeks. The Council wants to reduce the number of libraries
with full opening hours from 38 to 9 and to withdraw funding from 10 of those libraries
altogether. The scale of the cuts is more than twice the percentage reduction in central
government funding.

Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers said as follows:

“The High Court has stopped Gloucestershire County Council’s library cuts in
their tracks today. It cannot proceed with closures, and must continue to fund
libraries, until the legality of these cuts has been properly decided by the Court.”

Daniel Carey, also a solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, added that:

“The Council was in such haste to push these cuts through it couldn’t even wait
until the consultation period was over. It has tried to do the same with the court
case, but the High Court has today ensured that these cuts will receive the full
scrutiny of the law. The Council has very clear statutory duties to provide
libraries and these plans breach them.”

For more information please contact Phil Shiner or Daniel Carey on 0121 515 5069
or 07815 089526 or daniel.carey@publicinterestlawyers.co.uk.

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Whilst we regret it has come to this we did warn Gloucestershire County Council from the start that this would happen. 15,000+people signed  a petition calling on them to pause and carry out an impartial, independent review of their proposals. The “consultation” feedback shows  that the public overwhelmingly rejected their plans. There was a coordinated day of protest in every library in the county. All of this, yet they refused to listen, and have instead chosen to walk into an expensive court case.

We welcome this news we received today. At last there is some hope. We support the legal challenge and are raising funds for it. If you would like to help details are here.

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6 Responses to The High Court issues an injunction against Gloucestershire County Council over library closures

  1. Pingback: High court halts Gloucestershire library closures

  2. Pingback: Gloucestershire’s Mark Hawthorne costing taxpayers thousands | thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian…

  3. Cllr Hawthorne is claiming now in a statement to the press that HE requested a hearing review on July 7th. This is in fact a process that has to happen to gain “permission” for judicial review and further injunction. It has to happen in order for the case to proceed rather than at Cllr Hawthorne’s request.

    We are just really pleased that for once Cllr Hawthorne will not be holding court in the dogmatic manner seen in his administrations council meetings, where anyone who is not a Conservative is treated with contempt and ignored. At last he is going to be held to account we hope…….

    He wont be able to say “I do not intend to respond in detail” when a judge asks a question of him as he does with us. Nor will he be able to ignore the questions from the judge…as he does with us. He will not be able to freeze those who do not agree with him out of the conversation as we have seen him do at meetings here and he will not be able to fail to turn up when he finds out Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are in attendance…as he has also done here.

    It is time to act like an adult Mr Hawthorne. This will not be one of your bizarre and farcical “scrutiny meetings” or “complaints committees”. Let’s hope we will finally get some answers. It is a shame that it has had to come to this in order that each side to get a fair hearing at last. bring it on!

  4. I thought I would look up what my MP Neil Carmichael ( Stroud) has to say on the matter of Libraries in Gloucestershire. I found one reference in the Parliamentary record. On the 28th February 2011 during a backbench debate on The Big Society Carmichael added this wonderful intervention

    Neil Carmichael: My hon. Friend is right. In Gloucestershire we are benefiting from a sensible and forward-thinking county council paving the way for local people to take over libraries. That is excellent. Does he agree that we should encourage more such initiatives across the piece?

    I would be interested to hear his views on what has happened to the Library service in Gloucestershire since that date but he seems to have gone silent on the matter. I would say gone AWOL.

  5. Pingback: Be Careful, DMBC, You Could Be Next… |

  6. Pingback: Public LIbraries News: on Gloucestershire

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