12:12pm Wednesday 20th February 2013
By Freya Leng
A JUDICIAL review into a decision to withdraw funding for ten libraries in Gloucestershire cost the county council almost a quarter of a million pounds.
Liberal Democrats have condemned the £238,317 cost of the legal challenge by the Conservative-run county council as “reckless”.
Revised plans to save £1.8m from library services in Gloucestershire were unveiled in January last year following a High Court ruling in November 2011 that the proposed cuts were unlawful.
New proposals were made instead to cut funding to seven county libraries.
Councillor Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “During a time of great austerity, the costs that have been incurred through this legal challenge was needless, wasteful and nothing short of reckless.
“If the job of reviewing the county’s libraries had been done properly from the start and not on the back-of-a-fag-packet then this money could have been better spent on new books for our existing libraries.”
But Councillor Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said the cost needed to be put into context.
“Gloucestershire’s library strategy will save taxpayers over £1.8m,” he said. “More than seven times, each year, than this one-off cost.
“This is typical of the Liberal Democrats – they oppose every saving that the coalition government has forced the council to make – but never say anything about where they would find the money to balance the books.”
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