The following press statement has been released by Public Interest Lawyers ahead of this week’s court hearing against library closures in Gloucestershire and Somerset:
HIGH COURT TRIAL OF LIBRARY CLOSURES IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE AND SOMERSET GETS UNDERWAY
Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, 10.30am, 27 September 2011
A three-day High Court hearing to examine the legality of massive cuts to library provision in Gloucestershire and Somerset will commence on Tuesday 27 September 2011 at the Civil Justice Centre in Birmingham (10.30am).
The claims are being brought by concerned Gloucestershire andSomerset residents, backed by campaigners.
In Gloucestershire, the County Council proposes to withdraw funding from 10 of the previous 32 libraries, leaving their long-term future in doubt. It plans to withdraw the much-loved mobile library service – a lifeline to isolated communities and elderly care home residents – altogether.
Similar cuts are proposed in Somerset, with 11 of 34 libraries due to lose their funding and 4 of 6 mobile libraries already off the road.
Injunctions obtained by Public Interest Lawyers in both cases have until now prevented the Councils from going ahead with their unpopular plans. The High Court will decide next week whether they should stop for good.
The Councils have breached their legal obligations to residents by:
1. Failing to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service” as required by the Libraries and Museums Act;
2. Failing to adequately assess and have due regard to its statutory equalities duties; and
3. Failing to consult residents in a fair, effective and open manner and to take into consideration the results.
Daniel Carey of Public Interest Lawyers said as follows:
“Whatever the ‘Big Society’ is, it should not be a fig leaf for excessive and ill-conceived cuts or the surrendering of cherished public services. These cuts will disenfranchise the elderly, the vulnerable and those living in isolated communities. We are confident that the High Court will require a fundamental re-think of the Councils’ plans.”
Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, added:
“The Councils have been determined to push these cuts through with complete disregard for the library users themselves, who are near unanimous in their opposition to them. It is the proper role of the courts on judicial review to prevent such unlawful decision making.”
For more information please contact Daniel Carey on 0121 515 5069 or 07815 089526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.