Library closure plan legal defeat cost Somerset County Council £200,000

Library closure plan legal defeat cost Somerset County Council £200,000

Library closure plan legal defeat cost Somerset County Council £200,000

First published in News by

LOSING a judicial review into plans to close libraries and cut back services cost Somerset County Council more than £200,000, the authority has revealed.

The council had proposed reducing hours at some of its libraries and relying on communities to run others to be run by communities, as well as cutting back its mobile library service.

However, following a legal challenge by pro-library campaigners, the council has revealed it had to pay the £130,000 costs of their opponents in court as well as its own £72,000 legal bill.

Libraries chief David Hall said: "The court case was one of the first legal challenges in the country faced by a council attempting to pass over the management of some library services to the local community.

"Since that ruling, several councils in England have done this same thing very successfully. It is now becoming widely accepted that communities can play a direct role in running libraries.

"We would much rather have not had to spend £200,000 in legal costs and instead spent that money on frontline services, including the delivery of a sustainable future for the library service in Somerset.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:03pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Mike Rigby says...

What a grotesque waste of money. As if trying to shut our libraries down wasn't bad enough, the extremists at County hall have thrown away £200,000 of tax-payers money in the process. And these are the people who bang on about their financial acumen. What's worse is that Cllr Christine Lawrence, then in charge of libraries, took the trouble to write to the County Gazette earlier this year to 'clear up any confusion' about the amount of money wasted. In response to campaigners' claims that over £200,000 had been wasted, Cllr Lawrence insisted in her letter that the true cost was 'only' £68,742. Now we know that the campaigners were right all along and that Cllr Lawrence's letter was just another example of the contempt in which the Somerset Conservatives hold the electorate. Roll on May 2013 and our opportunity to relieve them of the chance to waste more of our money.
What a grotesque waste of money. As if trying to shut our libraries down wasn't bad enough, the extremists at County hall have thrown away £200,000 of tax-payers money in the process. And these are the people who bang on about their financial acumen. What's worse is that Cllr Christine Lawrence, then in charge of libraries, took the trouble to write to the County Gazette earlier this year to 'clear up any confusion' about the amount of money wasted. In response to campaigners' claims that over £200,000 had been wasted, Cllr Lawrence insisted in her letter that the true cost was 'only' £68,742. Now we know that the campaigners were right all along and that Cllr Lawrence's letter was just another example of the contempt in which the Somerset Conservatives hold the electorate. Roll on May 2013 and our opportunity to relieve them of the chance to waste more of our money. Mike Rigby
  • Score: 0

9:35pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Guy Smiley says...

When did you last use a library Mr Rigby? (for real, not as a pr stunt)
When did you last use a library Mr Rigby? (for real, not as a pr stunt) Guy Smiley
  • Score: 0

9:47pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Mike Rigby says...

I currently have 3 library books on loan. You'll probably say I have a vested interest now :-)
I currently have 3 library books on loan. You'll probably say I have a vested interest now :-) Mike Rigby
  • Score: 0

10:05pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Guy Smiley says...

Would you be happy to pay a nominal fee for that loan? Leave library provision free for those that cannot afford books (but manage quite nicely for fags n cider)?

How do you see and justify library provision in the next 5-years when printed media is in massive decline?
Would you be happy to pay a nominal fee for that loan? Leave library provision free for those that cannot afford books (but manage quite nicely for fags n cider)? How do you see and justify library provision in the next 5-years when printed media is in massive decline? Guy Smiley
  • Score: 0

10:27pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Mike Rigby says...

I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years.
I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years. Mike Rigby
  • Score: 0

8:00am Sat 24 Nov 12

FreeSpeech? says...

Mike Rigby wrote:
I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years.
Quite right Mike, but could you leave the party politics out of it & just concentrate on the councillors as whatever party they are affiliated with makes no difference as they're all in it for profit.
I myself do not use the library service but believe that everyone should have access to it and don't mind paying for it, on the other hand I do begrudge paying for disabled parking bays out of council tax when the majority of those using them could afford to pay!
[quote][p][bold]Mike Rigby[/bold] wrote: I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years.[/p][/quote]Quite right Mike, but could you leave the party politics out of it & just concentrate on the councillors as whatever party they are affiliated with makes no difference as they're all in it for profit. I myself do not use the library service but believe that everyone should have access to it and don't mind paying for it, on the other hand I do begrudge paying for disabled parking bays out of council tax when the majority of those using them could afford to pay! FreeSpeech?
  • Score: 0

8:32am Sat 24 Nov 12

awayswing says...

Closing libraries is an insane idea put forward by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Closing libraries is an insane idea put forward by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. awayswing
  • Score: 0

3:11pm Sat 24 Nov 12

Mike Rigby says...

FreeSpeech? wrote:
Mike Rigby wrote:
I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years.
Quite right Mike, but could you leave the party politics out of it & just concentrate on the councillors as whatever party they are affiliated with makes no difference as they're all in it for profit.
I myself do not use the library service but believe that everyone should have access to it and don't mind paying for it, on the other hand I do begrudge paying for disabled parking bays out of council tax when the majority of those using them could afford to pay!
FreeSpeech. I'm pleased to see you support the principle of access to quality library services. I have no party politics; I'm an Independent. I am criticising the Conservatives on this issue at it is they, and they alone, that voted through the attempt to close libraries. I would be equally critical of other parties if they were behind such plans.
[quote][p][bold]FreeSpeech?[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mike Rigby[/bold] wrote: I already pay for the library through my Council Tax. Library users appreciate not only the ability to borrow books (including children's books not well-catered for electronically) but also the access to the Internet provided and the DVD rentals. To misquote Mark Twain "Reports of the book's demise have been greatly exaggerated." None of which has anything to do with the subject of this story, the waste of £200,000 of taxpayer's money, a sum that would pay to keep our local library open for the next 13 years.[/p][/quote]Quite right Mike, but could you leave the party politics out of it & just concentrate on the councillors as whatever party they are affiliated with makes no difference as they're all in it for profit. I myself do not use the library service but believe that everyone should have access to it and don't mind paying for it, on the other hand I do begrudge paying for disabled parking bays out of council tax when the majority of those using them could afford to pay![/p][/quote]FreeSpeech. I'm pleased to see you support the principle of access to quality library services. I have no party politics; I'm an Independent. I am criticising the Conservatives on this issue at it is they, and they alone, that voted through the attempt to close libraries. I would be equally critical of other parties if they were behind such plans. Mike Rigby
  • Score: 0

8:25pm Sat 24 Nov 12

PhilNichols says...

Guy Smiley wrote:
Would you be happy to pay a nominal fee for that loan? Leave library provision free for those that cannot afford books (but manage quite nicely for fags n cider)? How do you see and justify library provision in the next 5-years when printed media is in massive decline?
Guy

Library borrowers do pay a fee to borrow items other than books, but charging for the loan of a book would contravene current legislation. Although that law is nearly 50 years old, the current (and previous) governments have ruled out amending it.

The library provides an incredibly valuable service to the whole community and is rightly valued by many, including the vulnerable and isolated, by those who can't afford internet access or to buy new books and by many families across the county.

Although the Friends of Somerset Libraries achieved what many thought impossible in their legal tussle with SCC, they and other campaigners know that was just round one. Look out for the report on the review of Somerset's Library Service due on Tuesday (Nov 27th) and the decisions in Feb 2013 on the budget for 2013/14, to see what round two will bring.
[quote][p][bold]Guy Smiley[/bold] wrote: Would you be happy to pay a nominal fee for that loan? Leave library provision free for those that cannot afford books (but manage quite nicely for fags n cider)? How do you see and justify library provision in the next 5-years when printed media is in massive decline?[/p][/quote]Guy Library borrowers do pay a fee to borrow items other than books, but charging for the loan of a book would contravene current legislation. Although that law is nearly 50 years old, the current (and previous) governments have ruled out amending it. The library provides an incredibly valuable service to the whole community and is rightly valued by many, including the vulnerable and isolated, by those who can't afford internet access or to buy new books and by many families across the county. Although the Friends of Somerset Libraries achieved what many thought impossible in their legal tussle with SCC, they and other campaigners know that was just round one. Look out for the report on the review of Somerset's Library Service due on Tuesday (Nov 27th) and the decisions in Feb 2013 on the budget for 2013/14, to see what round two will bring. PhilNichols
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree