Jeremy Hilton to challenge Hawthorne over Library Judgement

November 25, 2011 4:42 PM

Glos CC BooksLiberal Democrat leader Jeremy Hilton has tabled five questions to Tory council leader Mark Hawthorne about the future of the county's libraries and the ruling made by Judge McKenna that was critical of the county council plans to close libraries in Gloucestershire.

The questions are now on the agenda for the full council meeting set for the 30th of November, when Cllr. Hilton will ask supplementary questions to Cllr Hawthorne's answers.

Judge Martin McKenna ruled that the county had not taken into account the needs of the elderly, unemployed, disabled or those who were struggling financially when drawing up its plans.

Jeremy Hilton said: "In February this year the Liberal Democrat group challenged the legality of the library closure programme in Gloucestershire at the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee.

"We expressed concern about the fairness of the new library network based on geography rather than where people lived and where there was most need.

"Mark Hawthorne dismissed our concerns in a cavalier fashion, and his "yes men & women" on the Scrutiny Committee voted as told.

"The Chairman of the committee Rob Garnham refused to allow me to present statistical information proving the unfairness of the libraries closure plan.

"Now Judge Martin McKenna has ruled against the county council there are a number of questions that Cllr Hawthorne needs to answer."

Cllr. Hilton's questions to Cllr. Hawthorne

Q1. Following Judge McKenna's judgement, will you now stop the closure of libraries in Gloucestershire?

Q2. What is the impact of the Judicial Review into the closure of libraries in Gloucestershire on the 2011/12 revenue budget?

Q3. What has been the cost to Gloucestershire County Council of defending the Judicial Review brought against your administration by Ms Kirsty Green?

Q4. Can you explain the logic of increasing the hours of Stow Library to 44 hours per week, when current usage is so poor compared to Hestersway Library, which you plan to close?

Q5. At the Overview and Scrutiny meeting in February to discuss the Liberal Democrat Call-in, debate and discussion was crushed by the chairman of the committee. This failure to properly debate the Liberal Democrat call-in resulted in the eventual judgement of Judge McKenna against the county council.

Will you now agree with me that proper scrutiny can no longer be done whilst the chair is a member of your administration and that he should be now replaced by an opposition party councillor?