A local authority has agreed to re-open a library it had earmarked for closure, after a campaigner won permission to bring a judicial review challenge over its decision.
A member of the Rhydyfelin Library Support Group had initially been refused permission on the papers to bring the challenge to Rhondda Cynon Taf’s plans, but last week was granted it by Mrs Justice Cox at a renewal hearing.
Advised by law firm Watkins & Gunn and members of Doughty Street chambers, the claimant argued that the council had:
- failed in its legal duty to properly consult;
- failed to appropriately follow Welsh governmental guidance and policy on libraries; and
- failed to properly exercise its equality duties.
It was also submitted that the decision was irrational.
The council had given a last-minute reprieve to a library in Pontyclun, concluding that to keep that library open and close Rhydyfelin’s (which was not in the original list for closures) would leave a better geographical spread.
Rhondda Cynon Taf’s decision to re-open is subject to both the consent of the court and the claimant withdrawing the claim.
Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: "I have taken the decision as Leader of the council to re-open Rhydyfelin Library. I will now ensure that thorough and frank dialogue is undertaken with local residents and users around the future of this facility and how the revised Library Service may support this community.
"I must stress that nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out but this decision will allow the opportunity for consultation specifically around the future of this facility to take place.”
He added that the council was dealing with a budget gap of more than £60m over the next three years.
“We have to make tough and inevitably unpopular decisions because of the massive cuts being imposed on the public sector by the UK Government. There is no way of avoiding these choices,” Cllr Morgan said.