Wednesday 16 November 2011

High Court ruling on libraries may have ramifications for Brent decision

A ruling in the High Court reported by the Independent today may have some relevance to the upcoming High Court decision on Brent libraries:

Judge McKenna, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, ruled Somerset and Gloucestershire had failed to comply with "public sector equality duties" owed to vulnerable social groups, including single mothers, children, elderly and the disabled.
The judge declared the decisions were "not merely unlawful decisions, but in substance 'bad government', and it is important to the rule of law to give due respect to these issues of equality".
The ruling means that Gloucestershire council must reconsider its plans to withdraw funding from 10 of its 38 libraries and the withdrawal of its mobile library service.
Somerset must reconsider its plans to end funding for 11 of its 34 static libraries and four of the six mobile libraries already off the road.
James Goudie QC, appearing for the councils, warned the library campaigners that the victory could turn out to be an "own goal" - and even more "draconian" reductions in library services could be introduced.
He said that, when the local authorities came to reconsider their decisions, it was at least "highly likely" they would make the same decisions again.
He said: "They might actually be more draconian from the point of view of those challenging libraries' closures than the decisions made months ago."

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