Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries was originally set up as a library user group. It was considered important to do this to try to ensure that library users had a say in the future of their library services. This was initially prompted by the news of the 40% cut to the book budget that was announced in 2010 with fears there was worse to come. Then came the shocking announcement in November 2010 of a further 43% cut to the libraries budget. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries was never intended to be a “campaign” but it turns out that is what you are called when you are a group of users of a service and the people who provide (or not in this case!) the service refuse to listen to or engage with you.
Over the year in which we morphed into a “campaign group” we have been overwhelmed with the number of supporters we have and the warmth and passion people have shown for their public libraries.
This week we have all been vindicated and shown that we were right. The planned cuts were fundamentally flawed and, as Judge Mckenna stated at the judicial review ruling, “bad government”. The messages of support we have been receiving since has been overwhelming. If Gloucestershire County Council think we will let them make the same mistakes twice then they can think again. We are all watching them VERY closely. We were weary from a long year of pleading with the county council to do a proper job with our libraries but Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries have been re-energised by the victory secured this week in the high court. We now hope lessons have been learnt and we can now go back to being the user group we intended, a user group which is consulted and engaged with so we can help the County Council to provide a public library service that is equitable and fair.
Here are some of the messages we have received since the ruling was handed down (names have been removed in the interest of confidentiality) via email, not to mention the hundreds we received on twitter.
Heartiest Congratulations on the result of your efforts. They really are appreciated in this part of the county!
Thank you all for all your hard work, stress, tenacity, and just plain wonderfulness!
Many thanks to you all! (mobile library user)
Brilliant news and we all owe you so many thanks for all your commitment, perseverance, determination, skill and hard work (Nailsworth resident)
We were delighted to see the news and also that we had been able to play some part
Sincerest congratulations to you and your colleagues for a great success! Councillor Hawthorne’s comment that deprivation of the most vulnerable is a ‘small technical matter’ rather sums up his approach to the way he interprets the Council’s purpose.
Many congratulations and heartfelt thanks for all you have done and continue to do.
Thank you so, so much for everything you’ve done over the past year – and you have done so much I don’t know where to begin! You have been wonderful in all that you have done to bring this Judgement about today and all those people who, like myself, passionately support public libraries and all that they stand for, are forever in your debt. THANK YOU!
Well done, all – and thanks for the updates! Hawthorne – as leader of a council that has demonstrated both incompetence and contempt for democracy – should resign immediately.
I, and so many people across Gloucestershire, are incredibly proud of you and the tireless campaign that you’ve staged. This victory is thoroughly just and thoroughly deserved. Enjoy it!
Many congratulations on your triumph today – you have done a brilliant job and everyone should be grateful to you
Brilliant Johanna I hope you are glowing and what an amazing example this is of what really caring can do. Thank you, Demelza and all for everyone’s hard work and effort.
Congratulations on having won the battle this far after all the hard work you’ve put in on behalf of us all.
Totally deserved win – justice done – huge huge thanks for taking this stand – especially as I know there must have been times when you really wondered….now of course there is more work! Outrageous response by Hawthorne! Thank you again
Well done – our donation well spent – on behalf of us here in Newnham.
Glos plans for library service is unlawful! Well done campaigners you are amazing
Three million cheers! I know it’s not the finish but it’s a damn good start and I offer my warmest congratulations to all of you who fought so valiantly and stuck through it all the way to here. Well done indeed
Such good news. I am so pleased. Well done. Congratulations. Thank you. Wow
Have just seen the news report on Points West. A fantastic and really important victory. WELL DONE TO ALL. We told GCC over and over again for months and in many different ways that their process was deeply flawed and they wouldn’t believe us. Now they really will have to start all over again…It’s a great day which hopefully will have big implications across the whole country
Congratulations! Long live libraries!
BRILLIANT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and normally I disapprove of exclamation marks). Very best wishes and huge congratulations to all the campaigners
Congratulations. Well chuffed. #proud
Nice to have some good news for a change! Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard for both campaigns, a fantastic and well deserved result.
It certainly is brilliant news. The campaigners here have real guts and were not prepared to let Gloucestershire get away with their monstrously inadequate consultation. Their victory is well deserved. This hasn’t been about closing inefficient libraries or modernising the service – it has been all about trying to save as much money as possible with no regard to the impact on users and no attempt at all to assess people’s needs.
It’s probably too much to hope for a turning of the tide, but at least it means other councils have to think again too.
Well done Jo & all others involved in the fight against stupidity!!! I’m proud of you
Wow, that is such brilliant news! Well done on all your hard work. Congratulations!!
brilliant work! Well done to everyone involved!
Common sense wins the day! Well done all of you, a medal should be minted in all your honours. It will be interesting to see how the case develops from this point, now that what we all knew is acknowledged. Thank you so much ……………. (Mitcheldean resident)
Well done & thank you for your effort & commitment to maintain a decent library service in Gloucestershire
Hoping that a lot of people have already said this, but thank you 🙂
Well done to Public Interest Lawyers for all their hard work, a big Thank You to the anonymous claimant for making a stand on behalf of all of us library users and council tax payers, and thank you too to Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries for all the hard work in keeping this issue in the public eye and keeping us informed about the legal challenge. We owe you all a huge debt. And, er, GCC owes us rather a huge debt as well. How can they waste our money like this? And how can Cllr Noble continue to be trusted with our libraries now?
Total admiration and respect for Somerset and Gloucestershire campaigners. The outcome gives a very clear message
Real respect and admiration for your tenacity to fight for what is right
WOW wonderful news Demelza. How brilliant is that!
We heard this on the radio earlier this morning – isn’t it good news! I didn’t dare hope we would win this – the equality issue was always the first priority for me. I just hope it results in the libraries in the most vulnerable areas being saved – and all or most of the mobiles.
Local Politicians must learn you can’t destroy services and get away with it
Congratulations! You’ve put up a brilliant fight :))
Just wanted to say how pleased I am for you and send all best wishes! (Brent campaigner)
I was absolutely delighted with the news about the ruling in favour of the libraries campaign. What a coup and it shows up what a sham the Council’s proposals were in terms of offering a service to the public. A lot has happened in the last year and, whilst it has been down to the combined efforts of a lot of people, I think an especial thanks must go to yourselves and John for carrying the brunt of the work in taking the campaign forward and for your tenacity in fighting for what you believe is right. Congratulations – you must have been over the moon on Wednesday
Just catching up with the news of Somerset & @FOGLibraries. Sets a great precedent. All power to Brent’s appeal
Fantastic news – congratulations on a great campaign!
WOW!!!!! What amazing news! I’m literally tearful with joy over what you have been able to achieve. After all the sacrifices that you, Johanna and friends have made this is the very least you deserve!
you deserve all the flowers in the land! You did an amazing thing
Woohoo!!! Well done !!! Fantastic news 🙂 xxx
An absolutely fantastic result! Well done all of you for working so hard to save our Libraries in Gloucestershire. I can’t wait to see Points West this evening! A huge thank you to each and every one of you,
*Amazing*. Well done to everyone involved.
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to you, Demelza and John plus all the team who have committed yourselves to so many hours of stress and detail, not to mention dosh. Won? I should bloomin’ co-co! GCC’s behaviour was stinkingly underhand right from the start. Naive old me could see that. Everyone could see that. Now it’s proven in court. I think councillor resignations are in order…
more power to you – fantastic news and I hope that other councils see sense and stop the stupidity!!!!!
Congrats, u are amazing,
So pleased about the court decision. This is for ALL library users so thank you so much! It is the start and we can build on it. Congratulations.
well done indeed!! Great that all your hard work has proved so successful.
Brilliant news – well done all the campaigners! (member of Cinderford Town Council)
What fantastic news. Thank you for all the very hard work and determination and leadership shown by you and others. I await to see what this means for Stonehouse. (Councillor)
Many congratulations on a wonderful victory, and a great statement by Johanna. It is a remarkable achievement. Thank you and your remarkable teams.
Many thanks Demelza, and Johanna and everybody! I can only imagine how you must be feeling, it was a long haul!
I was away yesterday when the news came through and the first I heard was a newspaper billboard in Berkeley. Just got in. FABULOUS news and you must be thrilled. Congratulations and huge hugs to you.
Well done Johanna, Demelza and John. Each of you deserves a well-earned OBE at least for your magnificent and tireless efforts on behalf of the people of Gloucestershire and our beloved Library Service.
I love what you guys have achieved, but for me? It merely points up the lack of intellectual rigour of the current management team – what are they thinking? Who is in the management team FIGHTING for the life of libraries? John Holland was a beacon and had to leave to fight from the outside. I hope now they have had this shock that they start working toward an improved service? Hooray to the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries!!!!!! 🙂
Just to say – as I’m sure you’ve already had lots of emails – a huge congratulations on being so steadfast, so consistent, so clear and continuing to fight for the library service in your part of the world. Your victory at the High Court is enormously inspiring for all other campaigns and is a reminder that hard work (sometimes) pays off. (Kate Mosse – Author)
To the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries Cheers and well done.
from Save Suffolk Libraries Rosehill Readers
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you. We would never have come this far without you.