Judicial review challenge against the closure of Balloch Library in West Dunbartonshire

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has accepted instructions from a client aggrieved by the closure of a local library in Balloch. Proceedings for judicial review have been raised in the Court of Session, Edinburgh against West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) today.

WDC originally had eight public libraries, three in the towns of Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank and the remaining five in villages and estates. Public libraries provide access to books, learning, study, IT equipment and free wifi, as well as providing safe spaces in local communities. Library staff help citizens access council services through online provision.

WDC decided on 1 March 2023 to close most of its local libraries including Balloch Library, with a proposal to make provision for reduced library services at a room in the Balloch school campus. The decision to close was renewed at a meeting of WDC on 8 November 2023. The petitioner challenges WDC’s decision on the following grounds:

(a) The council failed to exercise its duties under section 149 of the 2010 Equality Act in deciding to close Balloch Library; failed to carry out an equality impact assessment that satisfied the requirements of the 2012 Regulations before making its decisions on 1 March and 8 November 2023; failed to consult with service users of the library including those with disabilities; separately, it failed to consult with services users of the library at Scots common law; and acted unlawfully in making its decisions on 1 March and 8 November 2023 to close the library; and

(b) The council’s provision, criterion or practice to close the library indirectly discriminated against disabled service users and was unlawful in terms of sections 15, 19, 20, 23 and 29 of the 2010 Equality Act.

The petition will require to satisfy the Permission test in the Court of Session Act 1988 before it can proceed further in Court. The solicitor for the petitioner is Charis Brooks, who has instructed GLC’s Mike Dailly, Solicitor Advocate. Laura McDonagh, Partner at Drummond Miller LLP act as Edinburgh agents.

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