Since the libraries ruling hearing, which took place at the High Court in London on 16th of November, we have been waiting, rather impatiently, for the final ruling papers. We were most concerned that the intentions of His Honour Judge McKenna had been misunderstood, not only by Gloucestershire County Council Leader Mark Hawthorne, but also by a Local Government Association’s Spokesperson on the national news. Despite contacting Cllr Hawthorne to correct him, the same misunderstandings were repeated to his colleagues at a full council meeting. Library users locally and nationally were left feeling confused by this. Unlike Cllr Hawthorne we had attended the court hearing but without the ruling in writing it was difficult to present it as anything other than our word against his. We are now pleased that this matter can be settled. The document is available at the bottom of this page. (please note the document is subject to one typo ‘environmental’ should read ‘equalities’).
The judge found for library users, awarded them costs and quashed all decisions.
Somerset campaigners have kindly highlighted in yellow some of the comments which press home the intentions of the judge and which show significant contrast to Cllr Hawthorne’s understanding of what was meant. Not least is the one where the judge acknowledges that the case was brought in the wider public interest and judgement was applied and relief given to the whole of Gloucestershire. Also, please note, where the three points of the challenge are discussed, it is the judges opinion that they were so inextricably linked that he felt it was necessarily to quash ALL the plans.
Cllr Hawthorne has repeated in the press and indeed in the county council meeting that they were “tripped up on a minor technical matter”. This ruling clearly shows that this is not the case and states that GCC were indeed guilty of “bad government” and “the breach of the equality duties is a substantive and not merely a technical or procedural defect”
We sincerely hope that we can now move on and that a much fairer deal can be reached for the library users of Gloucestershire
We have also received a copy of the final order which confirms the outright quashing of all of the relevant decisions made by Gloucestershire County Council