Residents of a village in the Vale of Glamorgan go to the High Court on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th in a bid to save their library from closure.
Earlier this year, under the Vale of Glamorgan council’s strategy review, councillors voted in March to close Rhoose library as part of a cost cutting plan unless volunteers come forward to take over the library and run it themselves.
The Save Rhoose Library campaign group believes that there were significant flaws in the way the council conducted the consultation over the future of the library and alternative ways of achieving budget savings were not adequately considered.
It is claimed that closing the library will significantly impact residents in Rhoose and neighbouring villages of Penmark and Fonmon, particularly local schoolchildren, elderly people and job seekers.
The community instructed one of Wales’ leading experts in Administrative and Public law, Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors to help secure legal aid and pursue a judicial review.
Michael Imperato, a partner at south Wales Solicitors Watkins & Gunn, has acted for individuals and campaign groups in a number of high profile judicial review cases against national and local government in Wales over the last few years. Last year, he was successful in working with Rhydyfelin Library Support Group when Rhondda Cynon Taff Council made a u-turn decision to reopen Rhydyfelin library.
Alongside Mr Imperato, the library campaign group has secured the services of Rhodri Williams QC and Christian Howells both of 30 Park Place Chambers Cardiff.
Karen Heenan-Davies, a member of the campaign group, said: “We didn’t set out to pursue Vale of Glamorgan Council in the courts but we felt we had no alternative.
“The council has systematically ignored the strong opposition of people in Rhoose and neighbouring villages and taken a decision that will affect children, elderly people and job seekers. Instead of a democratic process we were confronted with a threat – either we raised the money to pay for the library and found all the volunteers to run it, or it would close.
“We’re determined to hold the council to account for its actions.”
Michael Imperato, partner of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, said: “We are pleased we have been given the opportunity to present our case to the High Court as we believe the Vale of Glamorgan council has acted unlawfully with its consultation.
“Rhoose library is a very important case that is part of a bigger issue concerning the viability of libraries, a service that many people rely on.
“Even if a library is to be run by the community, as suggested in plans for Rhoose library, it still needs to be properly supported by the council to make it viable.
“We’re hoping that we will achieve a favourable outcome following the case and that Rhoose library remains open.”