Yesterday DMBC Cabinet confirmed that despite being aware of the inequalities to vulnerable and marginalised groups its strategy involves, and admitting (at the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee meeting last week) that it will result in a reduced standard of service for over half the population of Doncaster, it will be forging ahead with is plan to close two libraries and make a further 12 volunteer-run. The council roundly ignored the outcome of the Judicial Review into Gloucestershire County Council and Somerset County Council’s library cuts plans, which found the councils to be in breach of equalities legislation and, in the case of GCC, that “the decisions under challenge were not just unlawful but bad government”.
We’re not giving up – we know that the review of Doncaster’s libraries was flawed, that the views of the thousands of people who have signed petitions and told the council during consultation that they do not want their libraries to be closed or volunteer-run have been ignored, and that the plans to make libraries volunteer-run are unsustainable, damaging to the service and contrary to the public interest. We are speaking to lawyers about taking the issue to the High Court.
It was also announced yesterday that the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is to conduct an inquiry into library closures. The Committee is inviting written submissions and requesting views on the following issues:
- what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century;
- the extent to which planned library closures are compatible with the requirements of the Libraries & Museums Act 1964 and the Charteris Report;
- the impact library closures have on local communities;
- the effectiveness of the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964.
Given that national government’s gaze is now upon the issue of library closures and is evidently concerned about the impact cuts to libraries will have, we strongly urge DMBC to put a moratorium on its plans.