Lincolnshire County Council faces second legal battle

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners celebrate winning their judicial review at the High Court in London EMN-140717-120412001

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners celebrate winning their judicial review at the High Court in London EMN-140717-120412001

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Campaigners are considering a second legal challenge to a council’s decision to withdraw funding from the majority of its libraries.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries is gathering witness statements ahead of another possible challenge to Lincolnshire County Council’s decision.

The council voted cut £2m from its £6m libraries budget in February. As a result, two thirds of the county’s libraries will close unless volunteers come forward to run them.

Deepings Library is among those to lose its funding, but Stamford and Bourne libraries will stay open.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries successfully challenged the council’s original consultation in the High Court. But the authority stuck with its original plan to cut the service.

The campaign group is now considering a second legal challenge.

The council’s assistant director of public health Tony McGinty said the authority was “very disappointed” to receive another challenge.

He added: “The council has yet to receive the details, but will be preparing the strongest possible defence once it has done so.

“We’ve worked hard to address all the issues raised in the last year’s judicial review, and carried out additional consultation before making a fresh decision.

“And importantly, the court ruled our proposed model would meet our legal duties, a finding recently endorsed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

“We can’t ignore the fact that by the end of this decade the council’s overall budget will have been almost halved.

“We believe it’s only fair that the library service plays its part in finding the necessary savings.

“However, under our proposals, we can do this in a way that both saves money and creates a more modern and appropriate service.”

The campaign group has appealed for people to give witness statements on how the changes to the library service has affected them. People will not be asked to speak in court.

People can get in touch with the group through its website, www.savelincslibraries.org.uk.

The group has also set up a page explaining the cross-party nature of the campaign in response to comments that it is being run as a Labour mouthpiece.