Following the result of the court case where the judge found that GCC were in breach of law regarding equality, FoML are urging our Parish Council to re-present our case urgently to GCC.
We feel that on the grounds of equality we have “vulnerable community members” who need a library in Minchinhampton with Public Library status funded by GCC and operating fully within the County Library network.
A ‘Community Library’ is none of these things and will have no security of tenure. It would operate more like a ‘club’ and it is highly likely that the GCC grant will be withdrawn in a few years and we will end up having no library facilities in Minchinhampton at all.
For more information go to Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries website
It has just been announced that there will be a Public Meeting regarding the future of our Library & Youth Club.
Regarding the High Court Hearing of a judicial review of Gloucester County Council’s library plans, that took place in September 2011, a delayed judgement has been made and no date for the announcement of this has been given, and we may not hear anything until December. It is important for us all to remember that an injunction is in place preventing GCC from implementing its plans before the announcement of this judgement when we (the people of the Parish of Minchinhampton & MPC) make decisions about the future of our Library. Please see Friends of Gloucestershire Library website for more details.
The judgement regarding Brent Libraries will come through on 12th October 2011 and it is felt that they have a less strong case than Gloucestershire but this may give some indication of how the courts will deal with GCC Libraries. FoML have asked Stephen Draper, the Chair of the Library Steering Committee, to make sure that at the meeting on Thursday it is minuted that the court case is still outstanding and that FoML request that no binding agreement is entered into with GCC until the outcome of the Court Case is known. We would also like to emphasise that a Community Library option means that we are largely outside the County Library System and that the preference would be to be a Library Link so that we legally remain a fully integrated part of the GCC Library Service.
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).
Following long discussions with GCC by the Minchinhampton Library Steering Group the Minchinhampton Library will now be able to stay open until April 2012, albeit with reduced hours. Here is the letter from Sue Laurence, Library Services Manager (Strategy) sent to Stephen Draper, Chairperson of the Minchinhampton Library Steering Group:
Dear Mr Draper
Following your conversation with Mark Parker here is the information you require for your meeting.
GCC will continue to provide the library service up to the end of September 2011 and staff the library to cover existing opening hours.
Assuming that there is a successful business case agreeing to community transfer from April 2012 then from October 2011 the £10,000 community offer fund could be used to cover GCC costs for the library service.
This means that the staffing is still provided by GCC and library property remains within GCC ownership and premises costs are covered by GCC. The £10,000 can supply 10 hours of staffed time per week assuming a volunteer is available to act as a second presence with the member of staff during these opening hours.
Please note that if GCC has to cover hours as double staffed then it reduces the available opening hours to 5 per week.
From: Sue Laurence
FoML hope there will still be room for negotiation and that we may manage to stay within the County Library System and continue with GCC staffing. Library staff describe Minchinhampton as one of the busiest and most thriving of the smaller libraries in the County. We would like to do our utmost to keep the Library open and as much as possible in its present form.
This meeting is open to all Electors of the Parish, i.e. anyone who lives in the Parish of Minchinhampton and we can have our say under Paragraph 8 of the Agenda.
Please note that there are two vacancies on the Parish Council and one way to be part of any change you would like to happen would be to become a Parish Councillor. Applicants need to apply in writing to The Clerk of the Parish before Monday 16th May 2011.
DETAILS TAKEN FROM MINCHINHAMPTON PARISH COUNCIL WEBSITE
NOTICE OF ANNUAL PARISH ASSEMBLY FOR MINCHINHAMPTON
Notice is hereby given that the Annual Assembly of the Parish of Minchinhampton will be held at The Hub (next to the Youth Club), Tobacconist Road on Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 7.30 p.m.
2. Minutes of the Meeting on 10th May 2010
3. Chairman’s Address
4. A.E. Pash Trust Fund Awards
5. Updates on the Library Service, Youth Club, Minchinhampton Surgery and a Community Orchard
6. Report and Accounts from the United Charities and the Educational Trust
7. Report from the Traffic and Parking Group
8. Matters raised by electors
Signed: Nick Hurst, Chairman, Minchinhampton Parish Council
Minutes of the Meeting on Monday 10th May 2010 are posted on the website (http://community.stroud.gov.uk/minchinhampton), or may be viewed at the Parish Office or in the Library during normal opening hours.
Coffee/tea and biscuits will be served after the meeting when you are invited to view information from community groups.
As you know Mark Hawthorne has refused to negotiate with Friends of Minchinhampton Library. Gloucestershire County Council is only negotiating with MPC regarding the future of OUR library. We have asked to be kept informed of events and decisions made at MPC/GCC meetings. However, to date we have received no up-to-date information regarding any outcomes. Therefore, we suggest if you would like to keep yourself abreast of events to visit the MPC website and address your concerns to Nick Hurst at The Parish Office, The Trap House, West End, Minchinhampton, GL6 9JA.
Additionally, as you know, there is a MPC meeting on the last Monday of each month and the first 10 minutes is given over to public questions. So this could be another way of you receiving information about our library, which is in the hands of MPC.
Here is a link to Ian Anstice’s striking map of library cuts nationwide.
Stephen Draper, Chair of the Minchinhampton Parish Council Library Steering Group, had a constructive meeting with FoML on 9th March 2011 to explore common ground and agree the need for the Steering Group’s Questionnaire to profile library use, to be sent to as many people as possible. This can be completed on-line anonymously – you may give your postcode if you wish. It is hoped that this questionnaire will soon be available in ‘paper format’ in the library and elsewhere in Minchinhampton.
Click here for the on-line Steering Group Questionnaire
It was also discussed that following the Meeting with Mark Hawthorne and his team, scheduled for 25th March 2011, a Public Meeting should be called to give information to residents about the latest developments. We will keep you posted about this.