COURT proceedings could be issued against Darlington’s council if plans to close a historic library are not scrapped, a lawyer said on Wednesday.

The authority faces the threat of a judicial review over proposals to close Crown Street Library and move most of its resources to a leisure centre.

Using legal aid, campaigners battling to save the library have again enlisted the help of lawyer Michael Imperato, who notified the council of possible legal action on Tuesday.

Loading article content

As part of a £12.5m programme of budget cuts, the authority has earmarked the Grade II listed library - gifted to the town by the Pease family - for closure.

In September 2016, the threat of a legal challenge from Mr Imperato led to the setting aside of an initial decision to close the library.

Plans were subsequently delayed but councillors eventually voted to close the library in March this year.

Mr Imperato has now submitted a 20 page ‘letter before action’ outlining the grounds for a fresh legal challenge.

The lawyer says the council should abandon the plans as they stand and “go back to the drawing board”.

The document questions whether the council’s consultation processes have been legal and highlights concerns about the trust that governs future use of the building.

Mr Imperato said: “The letter is very detailed and has been drafted with the help of a QC who has worked on big cases in the Supreme Court - we would not be sending it if we did not think there was an argument to put forward.

“The next step depends on what the council want to do – if they wanted to put things on hold to consider this, then fine.

“If they resist, we then look at court proceedings which can be launched at the end of next week.”

He added: “The people of Darlington are still incensed by this and concerned about the whole plan.”

A spokesman for Darlington Borough Council said the letter was currently being reviewed. Decisions made in relation to Cockerton Library and the mobile library are unaffected by the matter