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Legal bid to overturn Kidderminster gallery plans
A DISABLED user of Kidderminster Library gallery will take legal action against Worcestershire County Council after plans to replace the facility with offices were approved by planning chiefs.
Louise Ryan, 40, of Sculthorpe Road, Blakedown, said she will launch an application for a judicial review against the council, saying the quality of her life will be “considerably diminished” when the top floor gallery is moved.
The decision, approved by the council’s cabinet and planning committees, will see offices for social services staff replace the purpose-built topfloor arts area.The gallery will be moved and, according to the friends, significantly downgraded, to the building’s first floor, and the Steinway grand piano will be moved to Kidderminster Town Hall.
Kidderminster Gallery Friends have set up a fund to help Mrs Ryan raise money towards some of her legal costs.
The case is also being funded by the Legal Services Commission.
Mrs Ryan said: “I have enjoyed visiting the gallery, which is a unique facility in Kidderminster and Wyre Forest, to listen to recitals and look at the art exhibitions there. It is a very disabledfriendly venue, so access is easy and because I am on a limited income it has been wonderful to enjoy the music at a very reasonable price.
“If the gallery is closed, the quality of my life and probably that of many other people in the district is going to be considerably diminished. I’m determined to keep it open.”
The council argues the gallery will be re-provided under the plans and not closed.
The proposals are part of the council’s libraries and learning service’s plans to slash £1.8 million from its budget over three years through its Better Outcomes Lean Delivery (BOLD) programme.
Conservative councillor John Campion, cabinet member responsible for the libraries and learning service, said: “The council is mindful of all communities when making any decisions and we will take appro priate steps to mitigate any concerns.”
Gallery friends secretary Stephen Brown said the group wanted to help raise £5,000 to help Mrs Ryan’s case.
“It is a brave decision she has made and we wish her well,” he added. “We think she has an excellent case.”