Library cuts challenge blocked

Campaigners against library cuts have had their High Court challenge blocked.

A judge ruled they had delayed too long in seeking judicial review of Isle of Wight proposals to stop funding five libraries on the island.

Judge Pearl, sitting in London, said that, in any event, he would not have allowed the challenge to go ahead as the island campaigners did not have "an arguable case".

The decision was a defeat for Serena Brunke, a grandmother living in the village of Brighstone, who led the challenge.

The Isle of Wight legal challenge is one of several launched around the country to save libraries as local authorities come under pressure to reduce services in the face of significant funding cuts by central government.

It is the first to be rejected by the High Court.

A ruling is still awaited on library closures in Brent, north London. Other challenges are pending later this year involving Gloucestershire and Somerset county councils.

At today's hearing, Ms Brunke attacked Isle of Wight Council's decision on February 23 to set a budget that took into account savings on library services.

Ms Brunke also attacked a more detailed decision of the council's cabinet on March 1 approving the closure of five libraries, or their transfer to be run by local community groups.

The five due to lose council funding include Brighstone library, which is regularly used by Mrs Brunke, her married daughter Heidi and 13-year-old granddaughter Alisha.

Kate Markus, appearing for Ms Brunke, applied for permission to seek judicial review, saying the libraries were "a highly prized community asset".

She argued that, even if the libraries were transferred to community groups, their future remained uncertain and they were in danger of failing through lack of funding or suitable volunteers to make them a success.

Ms Markus said the council budget-setting process was flawed and unlawfully limited the council's options when it came to the provision of library services.

She argued there had been a lack of consultation, and a failure by the council to take proper account of the disproportionate impact of the closures on women and the disabled, as it was required to do by equality legislation.

Rejecting the application, Judge Pearl said there had been too long a delay in launching the case.

Ms Markus said Ms Brunke could not be blamed for the delay, adding it was due to the Legal Services Commission taking too long to rule on whether she should be granted legal aid to fight her case.

The judge said he had sympathy for the difficulties Ms Brunke faced, but her "excuse was not good enough".

He said the case was at the "outer reaches" of the period to issue proceedings, and it would be "detrimental to good administration" to give her permission to take her case to a full hearing.

The judge indicated he would not have given permission in any event.

He said of Ms Markus: "None of the matters she drew to my attention are in my view arguable."

The council had approached the decision-making process on library services with an "open mind" and could not be said to have acted unlawfully, he added.

Later Mrs Brunke said: "We hold the Legal Services Commission responsible for what has happened today. They constantly delayed issuing legal aid, first withdrawing it and then reinstating it."


voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn