In two minutes flat this morning (17 July) a High Court judge brought a county’s library destruction plans to a screeching halt.

And, potentially, the court victory will stop many other such drastic plans in their tracks.IMG_0008

The Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign (in the person of local resident Simon Draper) had called a judicial review of Lincolnshire County Council’s widely-hated decision to close an astonishing 29 of its 44 libraries. That would leave just 15 attempting to provide the full service required by law – and 29 dumped on to reluctant local volunteers to run if they could.

Mr Justice Collins today pronounced the decision ‘flawed’ on two grounds: (1) poor consultation and (2) failure to ‘properly deal with’an alternative plan [in this case, a bid by an experienced charitable body (Greenwich Leisure Ltd) to run the service, making all the budget cuts required but still saving all 44 libraries and more than 160

“These two tactics are among the most dangerous being employed by councils against common sense and common humanity,” said The Library Campaign (TLC), the national charity that supports library users.

The Library Campaign chair Laura Swaffield said: “If the judicial review outlaws these two nasty tricks, suddenly there’s hope for threatened library services everywhere.

“Time and again, The Library Campaign hears of councils carrying out skewed consultations designed to get the answer the council wants – and ignoring all opposition.

“Time and again, The Library Campaign hears of councils that are pig-headedly determined to wreck their library services – refusing any other ways to make savings.

“It’s theoretically possible that Lincs CC will appeal – but the judge made it clear that it would ‘have difficulty’s doing so. So – fingers crossed.

“Meanwhile, TLC is celebrating alongside Save Lincs Libraries. We are proud to have supported them.”

Laura added: “As so often, it is library users who have stood up to defend this vital public service. Not the professional bodies – and certainly not the libraries minister.

“Ed Vaizey’s policy basically seems to be sabotage – in particular, encouraging the growth of volunteer libraries at the expense of a proper service. The idea has never been researched. Now, we hope, it will be impossible to enforce this whole crazy idea against the wishes of communities.

Simon Draper and his wife, Timber, outside of Court 2.
Simon Draper and his wife, Timber, outside of Court 2.
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  1. Shirley Burnham 10 years ago

    Social enterprises, private companies and the man-on-the-street are amongst those being invited to submit tenders to run libraries nowadays – without any due regard to possible outcomes. There is a wealth of evidence that identifies the democratic, social and economic advantages of retaining council-led and run library services, much of which has been submitted to dozens of government reviews, consultations, studies and surveys.

    The habit of ignoring arguments for retaining the existing *in-house* delivery model is a significant breach of trust that should be condemned. A council running its own Public Library Service is not rocket-science, is it? If the competence is there, then that should be what happens – and, if a council admits it’s incompetent to do so, that’s when the big questions about its future should be asked!

  2. I totally agree with Shirley we shouldn’t get diverted by SocEnts, Trusts, mutuals, privatisation etc. we need to fight to ensure that the CC doesn’t renage on its responsibilities under the 64 Act to provide a democratic, accessible, accountable, comprehensive & efficient public library service, none of these responsibilities can be guaranteed through divestment.

  3. Jeanette Spice 10 years ago

    I do love “The man on the street” comment though I shouldn’t. Despicable that LCC are still using in press interviews the 30 volunteers groups that have come forward. Talking as though they have voluntarily volunteered. I know they have done this under duress for fear of losing their libraries.

    I so worry about the future of these libraries if LCC plans still go ahead after funding has been withdrawn after the next 4 years. One of the parish councils are already running a swimming pool, youth group I don’t think they would be able to cope with having to find funding in the future for a library.

    I have been a volunteer in the past and hope to in my retirement but I want the backing of an organisation behind me when I do, not have the tremendous financial pressure which surely will be put upon these volunteers.

    From a member of Save Lincolnshire Libraries who is very happy today but wants all libraries, UK wide, to be supported.

  4. Joy Murray 10 years ago

    This is all so true. Babies are being thrown out with bathwater up and down the country. Even best practice ones.

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