Today a High Court hearing into Gloucestershire County Council’s huge cuts to our public library service began. The hearing is set to be heard over three days, concluding on Thursday 29th September. Today the case was put into context in relation to past case law by Helen Mountfield QC who is representing the claimant. The following are links to press reports of the day.
THE GUARDIAN : 27th September
Library closure councils ‘neglecting the vulnerable’
Gloucestershire and Somerset county councils failed to take into account the needs of the most vulnerable in society when they announced plans to withdraw funding from local libraries, a court has heard.
BBC News : 27th September
Library closures challenge begins in High Court
“The facts of this case are very stark and should send a very clear message to counties about what they need to do to comply with their legal duties.”
This Is Gloucestershire : 27th September
Battle to save Gloucestershire libraries hits the High Court
Wilts & Gloucestershire Standard : 27th September
“We believe that the courts will agree with us that a ‘comprehensive library service’ must mean access to a library with the full range of services including broadband access as well as books for the whole community …”
Helen Mountfield QC particularly focussed on explaining equality duties, the meaning of the public libraries act and the duty to consult. Tomorrow she will be presenting the case against Gloucestershire County Council in relation to the context she gave today. Following this GCC will be delivering their points of defence.
It was very interesting to observe and very refreshing to at last be able to properly examine and scrutinise the county councils plans in an unbiased arena.
Day two of the hearing will commence tomorrow morning at 10:30 am.