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Library campaigners win court fight

Campaigners have won a significant High Court battle against cuts to council library services.

A judge ruled Lincolnshire County Council's decision to re-design their services to save £2 million was legally flawed.

The decision was a victory for Save Lincolnshire Libraries, and Lincoln resident Simon Draper, who led the legal challenge.

The county council had proposed to move from 47 libraries to a service leaving only 15 libraries under its control, said lawyers for the campaigners.

The remaining 32 were to be run either by volunteers or closed, with the areas affected served by a mobile library service.

Quashing the council decision last December to go ahead with the proposals, Mr Justice Collins said at the High Court in London that "the means by which the council reached its decision was flawed in two respects".

Ordering the council to reconsider the future of its libraries, he ruled that there had been a flawed public consultation exercise and a failure properly to deal with an alternative proposal.

The Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign had collected a petition containing 23,000 signatures rejecting the council's plans.

John Hough, spokesman for the libraries campaign, said: "This is an historic day for the people of Lincolnshire.

"In their tens of thousands, they have refused to bow down to the arrogant and unyielding power of the country council.

"We hope this decision will mean that people throughout Lincolnshire will continue to be able to access a properly-run library service which will continue to be run by experienced staff supported by volunteers.

"Who will run this service is now open to question."

Mr Draper, who headed the legal challenge, is a carer for his wife, who uses a wheelchair.

He and other witnesses gave evidence that the council's proposals would have disproportionately affected the elderly, disabled people, lone parents and the socially disadvantaged.


From Belfast Telegraph