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Council defeats High Court challenge to establishment of community libraries

A Welsh council has successfully defended a High Court challenge to its decision to establish five community libraries.

The case was the second time that Vale of Glamorgan Council had faced legal proceedings over its proposed changes to library services.

The first involved a proposed community library at Rhoose, which was also one of the five covered by the latest proceedings. In that earlier case Mrs Justice Elizabeth Laingalso ruled in the local authority’s favour, finding that the claim was ‘premature’ as at that stage there had been no operative decision to close any library.

In Tilley, R (on the application of) v The Vale of Glamorgan Council [2016] EWHC 2272 Mr Justice Lewis concluded that the local authority’s decision-making in relation to establishing the five community-led libraries had been lawful.

“The defendant did not act irrationally in its approach to the determination of whether there would be sufficient volunteers to enable the community library at Rhoose to operate,” he said, adding that the council had sufficient information to enable it to consider the viability of the revised business case for establishing a community library at Rhoose.

The judge also found that there was “nothing to indicate that its [the council’s] decision would result in a failure to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service” and that the local authority had complied with its obligations under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 [the public sector equality duty] and had due regard to the matters set out in that section.

Mr Justice Lewis continued: “Section 28 of the [Children Act 2004] was not intended to incorporate Article 3 of the UN Convention but, even if it did, the decision in the present case would either not involve any breach of Article 3 or would not call for the grant of any remedy in the present case. For those reasons, this claim is dismissed.”