Today lawyers acting for a client in Gloucestershire have launched a judicial review at the high court, challenging Gloucestershire County Council’s plans for severe reductions to the county’s public library service. Public Interest Lawyers have released this statement.
From the start of this campaign we have warned Gloucestershire County Council that their plans for our library service may place them in breach of the law. They have chosen to ignore this warning, along with many other complaints from library users, a 15,000-signature county-wide petition, numerous petitions from local communities, and a day of protest where hundreds attended family events held at every library in the county. We hope that the launch of this judicial review at last causes them to pause and rethink their plans, instead of continuing on this path of destruction of our public library service.
It is astonishing that a Council which claims it is too cash strapped to maintain our public library service, would even consider using thousands of pounds of Gloucestershire tax payers’ money to attempt to defend itself against these charges – money that could fund a thorough review of these plans (as we have requested from the start), and the maintenance and improvement of our public libraries.
The County Council obviously feel they are not answerable to Gloucestershire residents, so now they are left answerable to the law – it is dismaying that they have let it come to this.
Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are not the claimant in the judicial review, and are therefore unable to comment further on the case itself.