PRESS RELEASE -
The High Court has today handed down its final Order in the volunteer-run library case, declaring that the Council is guilty of a full breach of its Public Sector Equalities Duty and ordering a quashing of the decision to make 10 libraries across Surrey volunteer-run.
This latest Order is a crushing blow to Surrey County Council which has until now tried to claim that it lost the Court case on a technicality and that it could continue with its plans. But now the issue has been put beyond doubt – the Judge has ordered that SCC is in full and substantive breach of the law and cannot implement the decision to proceed with volunteer-run libraries taken in September 2011.
The Council must now revert the libraries to the way they were prior to September 2011, including a return of all paid staff, a return of the Library Management System and the return of staff counters. All ten libraries are once again part of the Core Managed Library Network.
The Council recently announced that it hoped to retake the decision in June and carry on regardless, but this latest Order means that a simple retaking of the decision would not be enough.
Lee Godfrey, spokesman for SLAM, said: “The County Council put a gun to the head of local people over this policy: ‘run your library for free or we will close it.’ It is good news that the High Court has finally put a stop to that nonsense.
Surrey County Council has been sent a very clear and strong message. Its library plans were ill-judged, unwanted and illegal. The Council had a good run over its library plans but it’s now over.
We wait to hear from SCC after this latest Court Order, but any attempt to continue with the policy would be an affront to decency and the law. The Council has spent a fortune on these library plans for no benefit – it’s now to time to cut its losses and not waste any more taxpayers’ money on the folly.”
The lawyers representing the Claimants have also issued a PRESS RELEASE here 20120502- Surrey Libraries Press Statement