Donation of £1,000 to support library campaigners in legal challenge

Simon Draper and his wife Timber Gray Draper.
Simon Draper and his wife Timber Gray Draper.

A legal fund set up by campaigners opposing cuts to Lincolnshire’s library service has received a £1,000 donation from a national charity dedicated to supporting public-funded libraries.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries has received the sum from The Library Campaign, it announced today (May 29).

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo: @SaveLincsLibraries EMN-140414-151922001

Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo: @SaveLincsLibraries EMN-140414-151922001

The fund has been set up to help Lincoln resident Simon Draper in his challenge of Lincolnshire County Council’s proposals to cut the library service by £2 million.

This would see libraries in Ruskington and Metheringham, along with 28 others countywide, close if volunteers could not be found to run them.

The challenge will take place with a Judicial Review in the High Court in London on July 8 and 9. 

Chair of The Library Campaign Laura Swaffield said: “The Library Campaign works to support library users and groups. We’re happy to help Save Lincolnshire Libraries, because their campaign benefits all of us. Our experience indicates that Lincolnshire County Council’s planned cuts are unworkable and unnecessary.

“It’s a great pity it is not prepared to listen to local people and work with them, forcing them to mount a court case that nobody wants. The result will be of great interest to library supporters everywhere.”

Though Mr Draper is eligible for full legal aid, there is an expectation by the Legal Aid Agency that some funds are raised as part of an overall contribution to the costs of running the case.

Therefore a fund has been established to meet the potential contribution of upwards of £7,500.

The new fund has been set up by the Lincolnshire campaign group to cover this shortfall. Any excess money will be donated to organisations supporting reading, books or public libraries.

Simon Draper described the sum as ‘just brilliant’, adding it was a ‘real boost’ for all those who supported the campaign.

He said: “When the Judicial Review goes ahead in July the Save Lincolnshire Libraries will have been campaigning for over a year, and they are all volunteers battling a fully funded council.

“We have rallied 400 people to march through Lincoln and most recently taking our message to Westminster (insert) and No 10 Downing street. We’ve gained the support of MPs from left and right as well as household names like Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen, Malorie Blackman, Mary Beard, Minnie Driver and Melvyn Bragg. This wonderful donation from The Library Campaign is a fantastic addition to a prestigious list of supporters.” 

Julie Harrison, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries, added: “This amount of support from a national institution indicates the crucial nature of our campaign. People across the country have been horrified by the destruction of the Lincolnshire library service, and it’s now clear that people outside of Lincolnshire believe in our fight too.”

She added: “Now it is time for the people of Lincolnshire to stand up for their rights and tell the County Council to stop right now, as changes they insist on implementing – despite this imminent legal challenge on all counts - are causing irreversible damage to the service.”

People wanting to donate money to the new legal fund are asked to send cheques made payable to Save Lincolnshire Libraries to: The Farmhouse, East Row, South Somercotes, Louth, LN11 7BN.

Donations can also be made online via the campaign blog at www.savelincslibraries.org.uk/donate.

Lincolnshire County Council has previously defended the cuts, arguing that it will lead to ‘more library provision’, ‘empowered communities’ and ‘substantial savings’.