Ruling awaited in library challenge to mayor

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LIBRARY campaigners are awaiting the outcome of a landmark legal challenge to an elected mayor’s powers that a judge said would have a “dramatic effect” on cases elsewhere.

Leeds Crown Court yesterday heard a judicial review into whether Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies had the authority to overrule councillors who voted by a two thirds majority to amend his budget. The amendment would have allocated extra money to keep 14 of the town’s libraries open and staffed by at least one paid librarian.

But Mr Davies stuck by his proposed budget, which was based on an executive decision he made last November to close Carcroft and Denaby libraries and offload 12 more to volunteers.

The judicial review was sought by disabled library user Carol Buck, 53, who used to visit her local facility every day but has been unable to go since Mr Davies slashed its opening hours.

The routes to her next two nearest libraries are inaccessible by wheelchair, added her friend Maureen Walker, who accompanied her along with Labour councillor Kevin Rodgers.

Campaign group Save Doncaster Libraries paid £8,000 towards legal costs with the Legal Services Commission also contributing.

Judge Mr Justice Hickinbottom said: “The issue really in this case is the directly elected mayor and the full council don’t agree on the facilities that Doncaster should have for libraries – who has the last word?”

He is expected to deliver his judgement early next week.

“The propositions of this case will have a dramatic effect elsewhere,” he told the court.

Afterwards, Miss Buck said: “We are positive and we’ll just have to wait and see now what happens.”

Call to back Dolly Parton-style library plan: Page 9.