Local campaigners who want to reverse a library closure in Rhondda Cynon Taff have been granted a judicial review.
The Rhydyfelin Library Support Group launched legal proceedings against RCT council after it made a last minute decision to close Rhydyfelin Library, instead of Pontyclun earlier this year.
Since then, local residents have rallied together to try and save the library forming a support group and seeking legal advice from one of Wales’ leading experts in Administrative & Public law, Michael Imperato of award-winning South Wales law firm Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.
Following a hearing at Newport Crown Court, where Mrs Justice Cox quickly delivered a decision to approve the appeal for a judicial review, a full investigation will now take place on 18th June.
The decision was received with a spontaneous round of applause from the public gallery, where over 25 members of the campaign group sat awaiting the verdict.
Caron Hadland, one of hundreds of local residents campaigning to save Rhydyfelin library, said of the victory: “This victory is due to the power of the people. We have been walked over for far too long but now people are sitting up and taking notice as we fight back.
“The decision for a full judicial review takes us one step closer to reversing the decision to close our local library. Rhydyfelin library is a vital component of our community used by everyone from pre-school children to pensioners. We are grateful to our solicitor Michael Imperato for all that he has done for us to date.”
Michael Imperato, who has acted in a number of high profile judicial review cases against national and local government in Wales over the last few years, said: “This is a momentous step forward in the case and a full judicial review will now examine the decision-making process of the council. We hope to quash the council’s decision to close the library for failing to consult with local residents and take into account their equality duties.
“Not many people realise that you can challenge a local authority or government’s decision in courts through a judicial review case but they are an extremely important way of holding a public body to account. There have been many successful challenges to library closures against councils across the UK and we hope to have a positive result with this case.”
Rhydyfelin library was one of 14 libraries closed by the council in a bid to reduce a £70m funding gap over the next four years.
Initially Rhydyfelin library was not one of the 14 earmarked so local residents did not respond to the council’s four-week consultation period. But in a last-minute alteration, the decision was made at a cabinet meeting on the 8th January to save Pontyclun library instead of Rhydyfelin to provide a ‘better geographical spread’.