Simon Draper Wins His Library Judicial Review Against LCC
July 17th 2014On July 8th and 9th at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Collins heard the case put by Mr Simon Draper against Lincolnshire County Council. LCC planned to cut its library service, initially by £2 million but in later plans by just under that amount, reducing the service to 15 static libraries and a series of volunteer-run "community hubs", whilst laying off librarians and reducing hundreds of mobile library stops.
The hearing was allowed on four grounds, and the result was announced on Thursday, 17th of July. The judge ruled in Mr Draper's favour on two grounds, that of LCC's failure to consult properly, and its failure to properly consider Greenwich Leisure's bid to run the library services. There's more on SLL's blog, including reactions from campaigners.
The county council's response has been more subdued. Richard Wills, Executive Director at LCC, said: “We are, of course, disappointed with the decision."
The county council have been dismissive of the needs and views of local people throughout this process. If the outcome had been anything other than a victory for Simon Draper, I would have lost faith in the justice system. As someone who took petitions and marched through Lincoln in support of the libraries, I couldn't be more pleased with this result. It's a victory for common sense and humanity.
What next?The main problem now is that responding to this outcome is once again in the hands of LCC. They could opt to restore the library service to the way it was before the changes, which is possible given the £41 million surplus they didn't spend in the last financial year.
But that's the optimistic view. Perhaps the council executive could also discover a love of reading, nurture literacy in young people, and promote reading as though they didn't think it was an eccentric activity that only luvvies indulge in. One of them could decide to read a book a day for a year, and another might come out as a ghostwriter for EL James.
I can dream.
What's more likely is that another period of consultation is on the cards. The proposal by Greenwich Leisure could also be back on the table.
I don't hold out a lot of hope for LCC's rehash of the consultation process, because they still show signs of just not getting it. Executive councillors continue to talk about saving money with regard to libraries, and this demonstrates that they don't understand that it's a false economy.
You can't save money by stripping a civilisation of its learning. You can only fuck everybody over.
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