Today was the third and final day in court, and the turn of James Goudie QC to present Gloucestershire and Somerset County Council’s defences.
Please note, we are not legal experts so this is a very brief, summarised, and incomplete account of today’s events.
GCC’s defence questioned the council’s obligation to consult, to take account of deprivation and equalities, and to inform communities and the wider populace about its plans. Mr Goudie argued that GCC had met and exceeded its obligations in this regard. He argued that the library network which will remain in place was adequate to comply with the 1964 Act, and as the proposed community libraries did not form part of this statutory provision it didn’t really matter if they failed. He questioned the relevance of the Act in the age of the internet, and argued that there was no issue with people no longer being able to get to a public library if their local one closed, as everyone should be able to get on a bus to another one. There were also lots of references to case law, as with Helen Mountfield QC’s submissions on behalf of the claimants on day one.
It was decided that there will be a delayed judgement on the case. We don’t know exactly when the judgement will be made, but PIL have suggested it could be a month or two. We will of course keep you informed.
Thanks so much to the many people (from both within Gloucestershire and around the UK) who have sent emails and tweets of support over the last few days – it has meant a lot during this very tough week and reminds us why we have fought so hard and for so long to save our libraries!