The following request for information and evidence to support a legal challenge against the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has been sent to us by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). If you can help this legal challenge please contact PIL. Their contact details appear at the foot of this blog post.
Judicial Review challenge of Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s failure to investigate Sheffield library closures.
What we’re doing
Public Interest Lawyers are acting on behalf of a client who lives in Sheffield, and is supported by Broomhill Library Action Group (‘BLAG’).
We are challenging the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (‘DCMS’) and their failure to conduct an inquiry into the changes of library services in Sheffield.
We have sought permission to make an application for judicial review. This is the first step of a judicial review claim, in which we have to show that we have an arguable case against the Secretary of State. If we are granted permission (which is not guaranteed) the matter will be heard at a full hearing in the High Court.
As you will be aware library provision has changed dramatically across the country over recent years, with many Local Authorities making cuts to jobs and services. Some libraries have been shut and in others volunteers are expected to bridge the gaps.
The DCMS has a responsibility to oversee library provision across the country, and to ensure that Local Authorities satisfy statutory provision requirements.
We are aware of at least seven library campaigns who have asked the DCMS to hold an inquiry into the changes. Each of those requests have been refused. Indeed the Secretary of State has not conducted an inquiry since 2009 in the Wirral.
At this stage it would appear that the DCMS is either:-
1. Not considering requests for inquiries properly or at all, or
2. Has a ’blanket policy’ which has lead it to refusing to conduct inquiries, or
3. It is not fulfilling the duty to superintend library provision
What can you do?
We would like to hear from individuals or campaign groups who have contacted the DCMS, asking for them to consider an inquiry into local library services.
Did you request an inquiry but receive no response? If you received a response what did it say?
This information will assist us in building up the bigger picture of the DCMS and their apparent refusal to engage in any inquiries into local library provision changes.
Please contact Emily or Paul if you think that you could help:
Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org or Paul.Heron@PublicInterestLawyers.co.uk
or 0207 404 5889.