Reaction has continued to pour in following Wednesday’s High Court ruling that GCC’s plans for our public library service were unlawful. Over the past year, opposition councillors from the Liberal, Labour and Green parties have joined FoGL and local library user groups in expressing grave concerns over the workability and legality of GCC’s plans, and in February, Liberal Democrat councillors even ‘called in’ the plans to the council’s scrutiny committee. GCC Opposition Leader Jeremy Hilton has released this press statement:
Statement by Cllr. Jeremy Hilton, Leader of Liberal Democrats in Gloucestershire.
“In February this year the Liberal Democrat group challenged the legality of the library closure programme in Gloucestershire at the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee. We expressed concern about the fairness of the new library network based on geography rather than where people lived and where there was most need. Antonia Noble and Mark Hawthorne dismissed our concerns in a cavalier fashion, and their “yes men & women” on the Scrutiny Committee voted as told. The Chairman of the committee Rob Garnham refused to allow me to present statistical information proving the unfairness of the Libraries closure plan. Now Judge Martin McKenna has ruled against the county council, heads must roll and our libraries must be kept open.”
We hope that opposition councillors hold the GCC administration to account over this ruling, and make sure they do their job properly this time around (particularly given Mark Hawthorne’s worrying denial of its implications), and work with library users to get a better deal for our libraries.