At a High Court hearing in Birmingham on the 7th July, permission was granted for judicial review of GCC’s library plans to proceed on all three grounds put forward by the claimant’s soliciter. The hearing will be held in September and an injunction is in place preventing GCC from implementing its plans before this time. This was a judicial review hearing bought against GCC by Public Interest Lawyers on behalf of a Gloucestershire resident.
As reported in the Independent, The Telegraph, The Bookseller and across the local and regional media, permission for judicial review was granted on all three of the grounds forwarded by the counsel speaking on behalf of Public Interest Lawyers and the claimant: 1. Potential failure to consider the statutory requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries Act, 2. Potential failure to properly consider equality impact assessments, 3. Potential failure to consult adequately.
The case will be heard in court in late September 2011 (this was the earliest date possible as the courts break for the summer). Until then, an injunction is in place which prevents the council closing or removing funding from any currently funded and operational library (static or mobile). The council are allowed to continue discussions with groups regarding ‘community transfer’ of libraries (in case they ultimately win the case, and so are in a position to proceed with their plans without further delay), but may not do anything which can be seen as implementation, i.e. signing agreements or transferring assets.
There are still some funding issues to be resolved with the Legal Services Commission which we will update you on as soon as we are informed by Public Interest Lawyers. Whatever happens, it seems FoGL will still be expected to make a ‘community contribution’ to the case, so if you would like to donate to the fundraising effort but haven’t yet, please still feel free to do so (details of how to do this here).