Legal action over Surrey council's library plans

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An action group has started a legal process against Surrey County Council's plans which it said will lead to library closures.

The Conservative-run council agreed in September to devolve responsibilities to groups of volunteers at 10 libraries in the county.

The Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) is seeking a judicial review of the council's decision making process.

A council spokeswoman said it would not be commenting.

Lawyers acting for SLAM have sent a pre-action letter to the council requesting it to reverse the decision. The group said further action would be taken if the council does not respond by 10 January.

SLAM's chairman Mike Alsop said: "We have taken this step with great reluctance but we've been left with no choice given the council's unwillingness to consult with Surrey residents."

'Closing libraries'

The libraries due to be run largely by volunteers are Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

In November the council dropped plans to hand over a further nine libraries to volunteers.

Speaking at the time, council leader David Hodge said a member of staff would be present for at least 20% of the opening hours in the community-run libraries.

Lee Godfrey, from Slam, said: "We don't believe the council has applied enough scrutiny to the plans.

"The plans are unsustainable in the medium and long term."

He said the council's plan was a "slightly protracted way of closing them [the libraries]".

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