“I think the law is a legitimate part of an overally strategy that people are using now to try to stop these cutbacks.” (Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers on Channel Four News)

Contrary to the opinion of some politicians and officers, public libraries are a statutory service and are subject to the law.  Other legislation also comes into play when libraries are being considered for closure.  This article seeks to briefly describe the laws informed and their key points in specific relation to their usefullness to library campaigners.  Please note this section does not constitute formal legal advice.  For a QC’s viewpoint on the current (22/3/12) standing of the law as it applies ot library closures, please see “Library closures and the public sector equality duty” by Elisabeth Laing QC. However, Elisabeth Laing’s article needs to be read with the knowledge that she was on the council side during a recent judicial review.

Roy Clare, then chief of the MLA, has gone on record as saying that the secretary of state decided to intervene in the Wirral case because there were:

  • Stated intention for large numbers of closures
  • Driven by asset-review, not social outcomes
  • Ineffective consultation with public (and staff) *
  • Potential of library services not well recognised *
  • No workable strategy for service improvement *
  • ‘Good Practice’ elsewhere not being considered

He went on to say that:

It was the combination that led us to consider appealing to Secretary of State. In our view one or two of these factors on their own would not be sufficient grounds to cry ‘foul’. Each is important, but those marked * are fundamental.“”

Look at these pages:

Funding – How legal challenges can be funded, how much they cost.

Arguments – Some of the (many) legal arguments that can be used.