Libraries

Surrey County Council pleased with High Court libraries judgement

Surrey County Council today said it was pleased that a High Court judge had not criticised its libraries plans meaning the proposals could still go ahead.

Mr Justice Wilkie upheld a technical challenge brought by protesters over plans to support communities to run 10 libraries in Surrey.

But the judgement simply said the Cabinet should have had more information in front of it about the work the council had already done to develop equalities training for volunteers, when it made its decision in September.

The court will reconvene in May when the judge will decide what should happen next. Protesters had asked him to overturn the council’s decision to create community-partnered libraries but his judgement today did not do that.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “Today’s decision is no reflection on our plans for communities to run local libraries with support from the county council.

“Our aim all along has been to keep all Surrey’s libraries open and help them thrive, while elsewhere in the country branches are closing. We’ve listened to disability groups to develop training programmes for volunteers from the start and the judge recognised this.”

In his judgement, Mr Justice Wilkie accepted Surrey County Council had equalities at the heart of its work and acknowledged the detailed consultation work it had done over its libraries plans.

Under the plans, communities would take over the day to day running of 10 smaller libraries, which account for about 7% of all library use in the county. The council would continue to provide everything else, including the building, the stock, computer equipment and the installation of free Wi-Fi in all its libraries.

Download a copy of the judgement

ENDS

Media requiring more information can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley on 0208 541 7259, or at james.oxley@surreycc.gov.uk.

Notes to editors

The 10 libraries being offered for communities to run were identified following an assessment of various factors including use, cost and proximity to another library.

The 10 libraries are: Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

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