Library closures may now face legal challenges

Croydon Council’s proposals to shut six of its branch libraries appears to have been put on hold, at least until July, although there is little transparency or openness at the Town Hall over the detail of its consultation, as they withhold the report.

Croydon and other local authorities around the country, though, may yet be dragged in to court over library closures.

Law firm Leigh Day & Co has launched a library closure challenge.

The lawyers are seeking submissions of evidence to demonstrate that local authorities are breaching their legal duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service. But they must lodge the challenge by March 31.

Campaign for the Book organiser Alan Gibbons said: “I have asked Leigh Day solicitors to pursue the Campaign’s concerns over the possibility of a large scale withdrawal of funds from public libraries. I think it is vital that the Courts examine the legality of the Secretary of State’s approach on the provision of libraries in England and Wales. He has a duty to ensure that councils provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. I believe that he is failing in that duty.”

The Campaign for the Book is an umbrella body that attempts to raise the profile of reading for pleasure and supports libraries and librarians.

The lawyers need as much information as possible from all over the country to show the court that the proposed closures are resulting in a less than comprehensive and efficient library service.

Some examples of what information would be useful are:

  • Library reviews undertaken by the council
  • Statements from the council announcing closures
  • Minutes from Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Cabinet Meetings or Council Meetings
  • Letters from local campaign groups
  • Letters from residents
  • Information about literacy rates, deprivation statistics, demographics
  • Evidence that the council has failed to conduct an Equalities Impact Assessment or looked into local public transport networks

Please send any information to librariesact@voicesforthelibrary.org.uk – they will organise this information by library authority and send it on to Leigh Day.

 

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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