Library closures challenge hearing concludes in High Court

An application for a judicial review of plans to close libraries in Gloucestershire and Somerset has concluded.

The three-day High Court hearing was brought about by campaigners fighting the proposals in the two counties.

Somerset County Council wants to withdraw funding for 11 libraries while Gloucestershire County Council wants to close 10 in a bid to save money.

The court is examining the legality of the cuts.

Campaigners argued that the councils had broken the 1964 Museums Act which says a "comprehensive and efficient" library service must be provided.

James Goudie QC, representing both Gloucestershire and Somerset county councils, argued that a comprehensive service did not mean blanket coverage over a geographical area.

In court he said that community-run libraries were "the icing on the cake" and if they were to fail then the council would still be providing a comprehensive service.

He also argued that libraries could not be exempt from cuts and said that the councils had carried out proper consultation and assessments on how policy changes would affect the most vulnerable groups.

The judge did not say when he would give his decision.

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