This in from law firm Leigh Day & Co Solicitors, in their words. Ed
Richard Stein and Rosa Curling in the Human Rights Department at Leigh Day & Co Solicitors have been instructed by a number of residents on the Isle of Wight to challenge a decision taken by the Isle of Wight Council about the library service on the island.
On 1 March 2011, the Isle of Wight Council decided to reduce the opening hours of many of the public libraries on the island and confirmed that they would only keep five of them open if the local community took them over. We have advised our clients that this decision is unlawful.
1. The decision breaches the Council’s duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons” living on the island.
2. When reaching its decision, the Council failed to act in accordance with its duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to have due regard to the need to tackle discrimination and promote equality, particularly in relation to women, older people and those with disabilities.
Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day said, “The local authority has a clear duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service. It cannot try to negate this duty by suggesting that local communities will take over many of the local libraries. The vague and speculative proposals on such arrangements fail to ensure that a comprehensive and efficient library service will remain on the island.
“It is clear that the Council has failed to properly consider the impact their decision will have on almost 20% of the current users who will lose their library service should the decision be implemented. This is unlawful and unless the Council agrees to withdraw its decision, our clients have asked us to apply to the High Court to challenge it.”