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UK family halts library closures in high court challenge

In the UK, a family has halted plans to close 21 libraries, after winning a high court challenge against Northamptonshire county council, reports the Guardian.

The council is technically insolvent and its auditor said its proposed 2018-19 budget was not achievable. Northamptonshire council subsequently decided to end financial support to 21 of its 36 libraries, rather than allow them to remain open or be run by volunteers.

Justice Yip ruled that the council would have to revisit its plans while ‘paying attention to its legal obligations’. The judge found the council’s decision-making process had been unlawful, and that it had not properly considered whether it would be operating a comprehensive and efficient library service—as required by law—once the much-criticised closures had gone ahead.

Of the threatened libraries, 13 house children’s centres, which provide activities, education and care. The planned closures would have left the county with one library for every 60,000 residents; the European average is one library per 16,000 people.

Lawyer Caroline Barrett represented the family fighting the closures. The mother, who can’t be named, said: ‘The closures would have had a devastating impact on families like ourselves, but also on the most vulnerable people within our community.’

‘The libraries offer us so much more than just books,’ she said. ‘They offer residents access to the relevant district council’s one-stop shop, blue badge and bus pass renewal, children’s services and plenty more services that residents rely on.’

 

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Category: Library news International