Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Library Closure and Judicial Review

My eye was drawn to the decision of Moray Council to close half of its libraries.  This was taken despite clear officer advice that the decision could expose the Council to legal challenge.  That goes beyond bold to foolhardy.

The main objection is that the authority did an equalities assessment, and officers advised scaling back the proposed cuts to limit the effects of closures.  Unlike Brent, there appears to be no compensating investment in the library services, but what could be portrayed as simply a rush to save money.

The comments of the Tory and independent councillors concerned seem to imply that saving money does indeed over ride all other considerations.  I don't believe this actually contravenes the public sector equality duty, which is to be aware of equality outcomes rather than guarantee a limited impact.  Nonetheless, I would imagine that Moray councillors have exposed themselves to charges of irrational decision making, and possibly pre determination.

Whatever the legal situation, I am not sure that the comments will exactly delight their constituents either.

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