Campaigners were celebrating today as a high court judge declared that the closure of twenty one libraries in Somerset and Gloucestershire was unlawful and could not go ahead.
Judge Martin McKenna stated that the library closures were "not merely unlawful decisions, but in substance 'bad government', and it is important to the rule of law to give due respect to these issues of equality".
Gloucestershire and Somerset Councils may well take the case to the Court of Appeals but for the time being this is an anti-cuts victory that has the potential to scupper the destructive plans of Councils across the UK.
Somerset’s fight to save its libraries began in late 2010 as residents came together to oppose the closure of services that many believe would rip the heart out of their communities. One local meeting was attended by 220 people- ten percent of the town’s population. Somerset has had its Arts budget completely removed and faces severe cuts to buses and services that rural communities depend on to survive.
After today’s result the campaign will continue with residents determined to keep up the pressure. Chair of Friends of Somerset Library Kay Hoskins stated: “The fight for literacy and open libraries continues. You can't open minds with a closed library and you can't keep libraries open with a closed mind.”
This court victory comes as library campaigners in Brent await an Appeal Court decision on the closure of six libraries. Last week a judge declared that the Isle of Wight Council's plans to cut social care were unlawful, and in another case a judge struck down Sefton Council's plans to freeze fees for local residential care homes.
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