Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire council library case cost £95,000

People chatting inside a library
Image caption The council was told its original funding plan was unlawful

A judicial review into a decision to withdraw funding for 10 libraries in Gloucestershire cost the Conservative-run county council almost £95,000.

The authority said it spent £36,000 on "in-house labour" and £59,000 on expenses including barristers' fees.

In November, the High Court ruled the cuts were unlawful as the council had not complied with equity laws.

Liberal Democrat Jeremy Hilton said ignoring their concerns would now cost the council more than £100,000.

'Really works'

Mr Hilton added that the council would also have to pay the campaigners' legal fees.

"This is another example of bad policy making. We called in the plans last February following our concerns over its legality.

"If they [the Conservatives] had listened they wouldn't have these legal costs."

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire County Council said it did not want to respond to Mr Hilton's comments, but in a statement said: "We have taken on board the judge's ruling and our focus now is in developing a new library strategy that really works for Gloucestershire.

"I'd encourage everyone to have their say once the public consultation starts on Monday."

Since the High Court decision, a new plan has been submitted which would save £1.8m from the service.

The plan would see funding stopped for seven libraries.

Blanket coverage

The new scheme - which is subject to a six-week consultation - will see Matson and Tuffley libraries in Gloucester stay open.

Hesters Way, in Cheltenham, would also continue to be staffed.

At the court case, campaigners had argued the council had to provide a "comprehensive and efficient" library service under the 1964 Museums Act.

But the authority argued that a comprehensive service did not mean blanket coverage over a geographical area.

The figures, which were revealed through a Freedom of Information request by the BBC, do not include legal costs for the campaigners which the council will also have to pay.

Somerset County Council, which was also involved in the case, revealed on Tuesday its costs were £70,000.

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