British actor and wordsmith Stephen Fry has lent his support to a campaign to ‘save’ Surrey’s libraries ahead of a High Court judicial review against Surrey County Council (SCC).
Mr Fry posted a message of support via twitter to his near 4 million followers after being contacted by SLAM (Surrey Libraries Action Movement).
The message, which was posted on Friday, February 17, read: "Do help @surrey_slam fight the good fight for libraries and librarians. Give the price of a book: a fine cause."
Lee Godfrey, spokesperson for SLAM, said: "We talked to Stephen Fry’s office yesterday because we thought he might be supportive but obviously we know he’s very busy as he’s currently filming The Hobbit in New Zealand.
"So we gave them the information and left it at that. Then this morning he tweeted in support and asked people to donate which was a shock really.
"Our twitter has been inundated and our website has had thousands of hits in one morning. I’m surprised the website is coping to be honest."
The group launched legal action last month against SCC over their plans to replace staff at ten libraries across Surrey, including Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams with volunteers, claiming the council's consultation process over the changes was flawed.
An injunction is now in place ordering that the council should ‘take no irrevocable steps towards implementing the Community Partnered Libraries (CPLs)’ before the completion of a High Court judicial review, due to take place next month.
However SLAM is now facing legal costs of up to £18,000 and is appealing for donations to help fund their cause.
Mr Godfrey added: "Libraries are not like shops where one goes and another pops up in its place. Once a library goes it tends to go forever. If people want to support their libraries and librarians this is the time to donate and the time to help."
SCC have said they are ‘disappointed’ by the courts decision to allow a judicial review and that their plans, which will save about £400,000, would ensure all 52 of Surrey’s libraries to remain open.
Hundreds of volunteers have already been recruited at all three libraries prepared to step in should court action fail.
The judicial review, which was originally due to start at the High Court in London next week, has now been pushed back to mid March. For more information and to donate visit slamupdate.wordpress.com