Local authority cuts to libraries held unlawful

14 Aug 2018 | by Monckton Chambers

The High Court has held that decisions made by Northamptonshire County Council (‘Northamptonshire’) on the future of library services across the County (‘Libraries’) which would have resulted in the closure of 60% of its Libraries, were unlawful.

Mrs Justice Yip DBE held that Northamptonshire had made its decision to close the libraries without balancing its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive library service under section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, against the financial pressures facing the Council. Furthermore, when taking the final decision to close the Libraries, Northamptonshire did not consider its public sector equality duties nor did it conscientiously take into account the response to its consultation on Library closures. The Judge held that the future of children’s centres, a number of which are located in library buildings marked for closure, and the ‘clawback’ of DFE funding which may arise if the children’s centres could not be relocated, were a relevant consideration which Northamptonshire failed to take into account when making its decision to close the Libraries.

The precise form of relief will be determined later in August.

The Claimant, a child known as WX, was represented by Steve Broach and Khatija Hafesji of Monckton Chambers, and instructed by Irwin Mitchell LLP. A second claim was brought by an adult library user with separate representation.

The judgment can be found here.