The three Island residents who plan to take part in legal action against the Isle of Wight council (over their decision to close libraries on the Island), have formed a new group. Dave Quigley tells us more. Ed
We three, Dave, Serena & Stewart, have taken the route of legal action as a last resort, the Council have refused to listen to the wishes of the Island, and as, according to the Constitution of the Council, as with all other local authorities it states that a councillors first duty is to his/her electorate whether they voted for him/her or not, we are left with no choice.
Of course we cannot say that we will win, however, having looked at precedents, particularly the Wirral MBC case of 2009 we, on the advice of our solicitors feel extremely confident that the Council will be found to be lacking in its duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
Residents of other counties taking similar action
There are similar actions being taken by groups in Somerset and Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire has stopped (temporarily) its planned closures and announced a three month public consultation. Hertfordshire County Council has quote “agreed to changes in opening hours which will enable all 47 of the county’s branch libraries to remain open despite extreme financial pressures”.
Our so called consultation was flawed, the actual consultation document, although available in all libraries, was not advertised and not kept on show, the librarians were specifically told they were not to discuss the planned closures and staff redundancies with members of the public and to only show the document if specifically asked for it.
When the consultation period ended, the very next morning the result was announced when no member of the council had even had time to look at the results, never mind carry out an analysis of them. They eventually stated there were 1504 responses, this in itself is a deliberate manipulation of facts, they received a number of petitions containing almost 10,000 signatures, plus emails and letters to individual councillors, these were ignored, they actually had between 11,000, and 12,000 not 1504.
The Friends of the Isle Wight Library Service
We have called ourselves The Friends of the Isle Wight Library Service, we wish to see all 11 libraries continue, as now, to be fully funded by the IWC.
There are groups of friends being set up for several Island libraries, we feel that, in view of budget cuts to be made for at least each of the next three years it would be a good idea if a friends group was set up for each of the 11 libraries on the Island with a view to providing a forward base from which to fight the next time the council decides it wants to shut a few more branches. This is an essential tool, even if we are, as we expect, 100% successful with our challenge.
We have no wish to be involved in the running of these groups but are willing to act as a central point for information and the exchange of mutual help between groups.
Dave, Serena & Stewart