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Libraries fight in High Court review

Library protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice - Phil Dilks is pictured front (right). ANL-140907-161024001

Library protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice - Phil Dilks is pictured front (right). ANL-140907-161024001

The fight to save more than 30 of Lincolnshire’s libraries went to the High Court in London this week for judicial review.

Protesters from Save Lincolnshire Libraries were joined by the Lincoln man, Simon Draper, who took the county council to court over its plan to save nearly £2million by off-loading the running of libraries to community groups.

The outcome will be known in a few weeks.

Phil Dilks, county councillor for Deeping St James and shadow executive member for libraries, said: “I was pleased that the barrister for Save Lincolnshire Libraries opened the judicial review by highlighting the fact that the county council has £41 million sitting in the bank collected last year but not spent on services.

“The decision to decimate our library service by withdrawing funding for 33 of Lincolnshire’s 44 libraries and sacking staff because they claimed cuts of £1.9 million were essential was taken by nine members of the executive – including Martin Hill (Folkingham), Peter Robinson (Market and West Deeping) and Sue Woolley (Bourne).

“Their rationale has been blown out of the water by the ‘underspend’ of £41 million which is sitting in the bank until the council decides what to do with it.

“These millions which were taken from taxpayers of Lincolnshire could keep Deepings library and every other library in the county running for a generation.

“I was shocked to hear in court that the county council had refused to listen to detailed proposals by Greenwich Leisure, a multi-million pound company experienced in running libraries, who had put forward a plan that would have made the savings necessary yet keep every library open with no cuts to hours or staff.

“The hearing largely revolved around whether the council had predetermined the outcome before it went to consultation – which was always my contention.

“In Deepings, we showed during our campaign that we met all their criteria for keeping a council-run library.”

Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “We remain convinced that all the necessary steps needed to make a lawful decision were taken, along with extensive consultation and a thorough consideration of the impact on our residents.

“Under our plans, we’ll end up with greater library provisions than we have now, while also making substantial savings – it would be a real shame if communities miss out.”

 

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