Save Northants Services campaigner asks councillors to reconsider their views on library closures after High Court judgement

Paul CroftsPaul Crofts
Paul Crofts
Northamptonshire County Councillors who voted to approve the closure of some of the county's libraries have been asked to reconsider their position after today's High Court ruling.

Earlier today, campaigners fighting to save 21 Northamptonshire libraries from closure won their battle after the High Court has ruled that the in-crisis county authority made the decision unlawfully.

The judgement by trial judge Justice Yip and now means that Northamptonshire County Council will have to look again at its decision to close the doors on 21 of its 36 libraries, though this does not mean the authority cannot ever close the libraries.

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Paul Crofts, a Save Northants Services campaigner, welcomed the ruling and congratulated those who took up the legal battle.

"I congratulate the campaigners who were brave enough to undertake the proceedings, which are quite risky," said Save Northants Services' Paul Crofts.

"They [the county council] have been found to have broken the law in the way they undertook the closure programme.

"It's a great victory for the campaigners."

He added: "Save Northants Services very much welcome the victory and that, at least for the time being, those libraries threatened will not close."

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Mr Crofts believes the council has also failed to follow due process in other areas.

He has now called on the councillors who had previously voted to close the county's 21 libraries to reassess their stance.

"We would ask them to reconsider the cuts packages and to go to central government to ask for support for the people of Northamptonshire," said Mr Crofts.

"Last year the Conservative county councillors voted for these library cuts which have been found to have broken the law.

"Isn't it time for them to reconsider their position?"

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Earlier today the county council responded to the judgement with leader Councillor Matt Golby saying the under pressure authority will work with community groups to find a way forward.

But he has not said that all of the 21 libraries will be taken over by independent groups or remain open.

The authority must save £70m this year to stop itself going under. It is planning to reduce or cut back on all services apart from those it has to provide by law.

“We are considering today’s judgement very carefully," said Councillor Golby.

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“We are pleased that the judge has recognised that the council’s public consultation and equality impact assessments were indeed lawful, and that she acknowledges the severity of the council’s financial challenge.

“As we announced earlier this month, we had already made a decision to pause the proposed changes to the local library service for further consideration and are continuing to work closely with community groups, partners and interested parties within the wider context of the council’s budget recovery programme.

"The judge has noted that the county council is continuing these discussions with the community groups.

"In light of this, she has instructed that the legal parties use their best endeavours to agree all outstanding issues.

“The county council is committed to finding a way forward that is satisfactory and achievable for all parties.”