Campaigners have thanked the Faculty of Advocates’ pro bono service for helping to save a library from closure.
North Lanarkshire Council had threatened to axe Newarthill Library, but local opposition was strong and a group was formed to fight the plans.
One possible avenue for campaigners would have been a judicial review of the council’s decision, and assistance was sought from the Faculty’s Free Legal Services Unit (FLSU), which was contacted through Legal Spark Law Centre.
Advocates Gavin Dewar and Jacqueline Fordyce provided advice, although a judicial review proved unnecessary after the council backed down and said the library could remain open.
“We found out about the FLSU through online research and were delighted to discover that there was such a service,” said Angie Walker, chairwoman of Save Newarthill Library.
“In the latter stages of the campaign, when it seemed we were fighting a losing battle, it was a comfort to us that there was the possibility of a legal challenge. In the end, it was not needed. It is really good to know that the FLSU exists and we would certainly recommend the service in future.”
Mr Dewar said: “The decision to reverse the planned closure is sensible. It is clear that the library is immeasurably important to its users. In particular, it provides valuable resources to young people in the area. The campaigners were determined to protect what they consider to be a focal point of their community. They should be commended for their efforts.”
He added: “Once again, the FLSU has played an important role in providing effective legal assistance to those unable to access it elsewhere.”
Through referrals from accredited advice agencies, the FLSU can step in to help in deserving cases when no form of funding is available, and can provide advice and representation by volunteer senior and junior counsel.