Yesterday, library campaigners in Somerset, granted a High Court injunction against Somerset County Council. Public Interest Lawyers obtained the injunction on behalf of their clients in Wiveliscombe and Watchet as part of the widely-supported judicial review challenge against library cuts.
The injunction, which is effective immediately prevents the Council from:
- Closing any library which it currently funds;
- Transferring or agreeing to transfer any library building or lease or responsibility for running any existing library;
- Transferring or agreeing to transfer other library assets (such as computers, shelving etc.); and
- Giving notice of termination on any leases it holds for any library buildings.
The injunction preserves the status-quo to allow the Court to fully review the lawfulness of the Council’s cuts to library services at a 3 day rolled-up hearing on 27 September 2011. The case will be heard at the same time as the challenge to library cuts in Gloucestershire, which Public Interest Lawyers are also instructed on.
Until today, Somerset County Council was pressing ahead with its library cuts, despite strong public opposition. The Council wants to withdraw all funding from 11 out of 34 libraries, and reduce the opening hours in all 23 remaining libraries. These cuts are set to hit some of the most vulnerable members of society who use the library on a daily basis.
Daniel Carey of Public Interest Lawyers said:
“This injunction is an extremely encouraging move against library cuts in Somerset. It means that the Council’s proposals which would have taken away a valuable service from so many people in Somerset, have been halted. We very much look forward to the court hearing in September when the legality of the Council’s proposals will be reviewed. ”
Tessa Gregory, also a solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, added:
“Somerset County Council have been determined to push these cuts through with complete disregard for the library users themselves, who are near unanimous in their opposition to them. The injunction prevents the Council from irreversibly dismantling the library service before the High Court hearing in September.”
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