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Judge criticises Somerset’s Conservatives’ “bad Government” as unlawful library closures waste £thousands of taxpayers money

by adamboyden on 18 November, 2011

Somerset’s Liberal Democrat county councillors were appalled when attempts to debate the future of Somerset’s libraries was refused in County Council meeting held on Weds 16th November, when Conservative Councillors voted to stop debate on a Lib Dem libraries motion that was already on the published agenda.

This is on the very day that parts of Somerset County Council’s library closure programme were judged “unlawful” in the High Court in London.

£61,000 has already been wasted in legal fees and now costs could also be added to this, which will fall on the taxpayer.

Councillor Gloria Cawood, (shadow member for communities) said “Lib Dem Councillors again renew our calls for the library closures programme to be halted and for the Conservatives to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on legal fees in legal disputes with Somerset residents.”

The three day High Court hearing was brought by campaigners fighting the proposals by Somerset County Council to close 11 libraries and Gloucestershire County Council to close 10.  Judge McKenna ruled the councils acted unlawfully by not considering the impact on vulnerable people such as the elderly, single mothers and the disabled. He went on to rule that both councils had failed to take account of their equalities duties when pushing through the cuts, condemning both councils’ approach as “bad Government”, and that it was “important to the Rule of Law” that the decisions be quashed.

See news of the campaigners’ victory here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15752432 and http://www.publicinterestlawyers.co.uk/news_details.php?id=188

and Somerset County Council’s reaction here – http://www.somerset.gov.uk/irj/public/news/directory/articles?rid=/guid/d02ff341-2bf3-2e10-6b96-f48e4d05df3a

See also Cllr Sam Phripp’s article – http://samphripp.mycouncillor.org.uk/

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