Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) have been fighting cuts to Gloucestershire’s libraries throughout the year. A legal challenge has now been launched against the council’s plans, as they may be in breach of the Public Libraries Act, the Equalities Act and failed to consult properly. Following government cuts to Legal Aid, the Legal Services Commission will only be able to fund part of the costs, and will be seeking ‘community contribution’ to cover the remainder.
FOGL are not the claimant in this case (they wish to be anonymous), but they are launching a campaign to raise the money. The amount required will be between £10,000 and £15,000. We will know the exact amount after 23 June, but it is important that we start raising the money now as the council are starting to implement their cuts.
Although this sounds like a lot, if the council’s plans go ahead then communities will be having to raise more than this every year to keep their libraries running. FOGL think it is regrettable that we have to do this, but this is the only option left in the fight to save our libraries. The lawyers have indicated they think the challenge has a good chance of success. They are looking to raise as much as possible by 26 June 2011. See more here about how you can make a donation and support the campaign.
Amazingly I read that 3 out of 10 children own no books - see Guardian article here. Nationwide it is said 521 libraries are due to be closed or are under threat. The average cost of running a library is £300,000. This means that only 1% of the corporation tax being lost by the Exchequer would keep all closed or threatened libraries open while only 3.5% of the corporation tax being lost by the Exchequer would fund the total amount of Educational Maintenance Allowance in England. Meanwhile as we've seen bankers bonuses are again obscenely high despite David Cameron saying in Feb 2009: "Where the taxpayer owns a large stake in a bank, we are saying that no employee should be paid a bonus of over £2,000."