#LibraryJudicialReview WIN on two counts

It’s a high court WIN on TWO counts for Simon Draper and Save Lincolnshire Libraries

The judge MR JUSTICE COLLINS read out his judgement:

“I have decided that the means by which the county council decided and reached their decision was flawed, in two respects. In respect of the consultation, and of their failure to properly deal with an application by a charitable organisation [Greenwich Leisure Limited] which already ran library service for two London boroughs, Greenwich and Woolwich. I have decided that the decision made in December last year should be quashed.”

There was no one from the county council present in the court.

In respect of an appeal the judge said (of the council’s QC) “I think she would have difficulty putting in an appeal”.

Download the PDF of the full judgement here: http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk//Download/71574

COMMENTS FROM CAMPAIGNERS BELOW, BUT FIRST THE OFFICIAL DOCUMENT…

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Simon Draper “Yay! We are simply over the moon. As soon as the full judgement was reached and read out, we had a bit group hug and started phoning everybody. I want to thank the people of Lincolnshire for standing with me against the council in this, we really are not to be walked over!”

Julie Harrison: “The council should have backed down a long time ago. All the people losing their jobs and all those library user losing access with the reduced hours. It should never have happened. Today is a triumph for a civilised society”.

Maurice Nauta:  “This is historic because it is the first time anything like this has happened. It is the first time a decision like that has been quashed as far as I am aware.”

Angela Montague: “A victory for Lincolnshire and for democracy, the council have bullied and blocked us at every step of this process, I am delighted that standing up to the bullies has resulted in a win – as it always should. Goliath met David today in the high court.”

John Hough:

“This is an historic day for the people of Lincolnshire. In their tens of thousands , they have refused to bow down to the arrogant and unyielding power of the County Council,” said John Hough, spokesperson for Save Lincolnshire Libraries following the decision of the High Court today to uphold the Judicial Review of Lincolnshire County Council’s decision in December to reduce its public library service by 30 libraries.

“We as Save Lincolnshire Libraries want to give a huge thank you to the thousands of people who have supported our campaign to keep libraries in Lincolnshire. Without their support this case would never have come to the High Court and the county council would have got away with an unlawful decision.

We hope this decision will mean that people throughout Lincolnshire will continue to be able to access a properly run public library service which will continue to be run by experienced staff supported by volunteers. Who will run this service is now open to question.

What came out in Court is that Greenwich Leisure is a substantial organisation with lots of ideas about how to maintain, run and improve the library service and they and others like them should now have an opportunity to properly put forward their plans.

While Save Lincolnshire Libraries would have preferred the Library Service to remain with the County Council, it has become clear that they are unwilling to invest in and maintain the service now and in the future. In our view a new provider would now be the best option.

Throughout this process Save Lincolnshire Libraries has on many occasions said that the County Council could have stopped the legal process if it had listened to the people of Lincolnshire and changed its plans. It consistently refused to do so and has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money trying to impose and then defend the indefensible.

Today is a victory for ordinary people and for democracy over a powerful institution that misused its power to try and impose its own political ideology on people in Lincolnshire, whether they wanted it or not. The Conservatives tried to run an experiment in social engineering forcing communities to run a public library service that was properly the responsibility of the County Council.”

Phil Dilks, Labour’s Shadow Executive Member for Libraries on Lincolnshire County Council and a founder member of Save Lincolnshire Libraries said:

“The only people in favour of decimating Lincolnshire’s historic library service were the Conservatives who run the county council, supported by the LibDems.

“Together, they made a political choice to abdicate their responsibility to provide a proper library service and they arrogantly refused to listen to the 24,000 sensible people across the county who campaigned against their back of a fag-packet madness.

“If the Conservatives had been honest and revealed their secret plan to close 33 libraries BEFORE last year’s county council elections, there can be little doubt that they would have been voted out of office.

“They and the LibDems have betrayed the trust placed in them by the people of Lincolnshire. They should now hang their heads in shame, apologise to the people of Lincolnshire and restore our library service without delay – using some of the £60-plus million ‘surplus’ they collected from Lincolnshire taxpayers last year and failed to spend on services.”

A quick reminder of the grounds of the review:

  • that the consultation was unlawful as the decision had already been taken
  • that the Council failed to ensure that the harm that was going to be caused by their decision was prevented, as required by the Equality Act
  • that the Council failed to properly consider the proposal by Greenwich Leisure Limited ( a not for profit agency who had bid to run the library service). As a result the Council had failed in its duties under the Localism Act (1)
  • that if the cuts go ahead Lincolnshire’s Library Service will no longer be comprehensive and efficient and therefore will breach the national requirements.

If you think our team of volunteer has done well, please donate to our legal fund, full details on how and why here: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/donate/

 

10 thoughts on “#LibraryJudicialReview WIN on two counts

  1. I am utterly thrilled with today’s news, confirming that Lincolnshire County Council were – as campaigners and residents argued all along – disingenuous and unlawful in their actions against libraries in 2013. It is a shame that we have had to apply to a higher legal power, rather than our democratically elected representatives to get to this stage, but at least the truth is now out, in the public domain, and supported by formal legal judgement. This is a real example of David vs. Goliath, and is a victory for Simon and Timber Draper, the Save Lincs Libraries campaign group, Lincolnshire librarians, residents and library users throughout the UK. History has been made today, and I’m prouder than I can say to have witnessed and played a part in it.

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  4. Congratulations, Simon and Save Lincs Libraries!
    Of course today is your day – but what excites me even more is that this victory should help save libraries all over the country. Dodgy consultation, and refusal to consider alternatives to silly plans, are not confined to Lincs.
    You have done a huge service to the whole country, and The Library Campaign is proud to support you.

  5. I support the verdict today but I am disappointed in some of the comments made by certain, very vocal, members of your campaign. In light of these comments I think it would be beneficial if SLL clarified a few points so everyone knows where you stand.

    #1 – Assuming the Greenwich proposal is taken forward in the new consultation where will the campaign stand if Greenwich attempt to smash the terms and conditions of paid staff? This may or may not be the case but Greenwich will need to cut costs to continue service, altering pay, terms and conditions would seem to be the only avenue open to them to reduce costs. Many of you have been rightly supportive of your librarians but if the price of a fully staffed service is a massive deterioration in the pay and conditions of those librarians, but a continuation of the service, where will you stand and what will you do?

    #2 – The savings, as much as I disagree with all of them, still have to be made. Does SLL agree that no other services should now face a larger cut than before or is the campaign happy to see services which others use, but they don’t, take a bigger hit so they can continue to enjoy a service they value? Certain members of your group have been very vocal that other, much valued, LCC services can be lost gladly as long as their library remains open.

    #3 – What thanks would SLL like to place on record to the trade unions for supporting the campaign? It strikes me that SLL were happy for Unison to logistically support the campaign in the early days but as soon as the consultation was over anti union comments were very quick to appear. Does SLL acknowledge that the unions supported the campaign and does it thank them for the support they provided?

  6. If Lincoln CC is to make the 1/3rd saving required, perhaps they could adopt a more intelligent and positive approach next time, Consider keeping ALL Libraries open that want to stay open and make up the shortfall by reducing paid staff and substituting voluntary staffing.- an opportunity for putting the Big Society concept into practical action In our village this would be possible on the figures they published at the beginning of this exercise and assuming it is typical,
    1. Keep the existing non staff support and 50-60% of staff and
    2. rely on volunteers to supplement the staffing requirement SUBJECT OF COURSE TO PROPER CONSULTATION AND PROCESS !

    This shouldn’t be a problem, – except for some of the existing staff. If applied across the board there would probably be some libraries that wouldn’t be able to find the voluntary staff, and they would have to close, putting more back into the pot – even providing funds for a County volunteer co-ordinator

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