Lincolnshire County Council may be set to face an inquest into its decision to cut back library hours and staffing across the county.
The decision, which was made in December, is now under scrutiny as the claimants, Public Interest Lawyers on behalf of Simon Draper, an activist from Save Lincolnshire Libraries, are hoping to combat the cuts.
Among the most alarming of the claims that led to this legal challenge is that the decision was allegedly already made before public consultation began, making the planned cutbacks unlawful. If this is true this a huge breach of public trust, and needs to be dealt with very strongly.
Other reasons behind the move include potential failures to meet the Public Sector Equality Duty and failing to listen to other ways to lose the libraries from the county budget by letting Greenwich Leisure take over.
Mr Draper is not the only one to have raised concerns over the move, however, as a former assistant director at the county council pointed out, the cutbacks may also breach the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. Due to the way the spending may work under the new plan, it may end up costing more per ‘open hour’ which would be unlawful due to being less financially efficient.
The council has responded strongly, stating it will be presenting the “strongest possible defence” and I hope that its willingness to fight this review is evidence of properly following procedure.
To have it any other way would be not only damning on this particular spending plan, but would cast a critical eye over other Lincolnshire County Council decisions.
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