Tuesday, 10 May 2011

First Salvo Fired in Library Legal Campaign

Brent Council has now been sent the Letter Before Action from Bindmans that begins the legal process for a judicial review. The action is backed by S.O.S. Brent Libraries which brings together the campaigns against the closures of six Brent libraries.

The Letter Before Action in summary claims:
1. a fair-minded and informed observer, having full regard to the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility of predetermination by the decision-makers that these closure proposals should go ahead (indeed that there was no alternative) which, in turn, meant the results of the consultation exercise were not taken into account conscientiously and with open minds on 11 April 2011;
2. insufficient information was gathered to enable the decision- makers to take into account mandatory relevant considerations at the appropriate time, particularly in relation to questions of need for library services and equality;
3. some consultation responses were not made known to members, significant errors of fact were made in the consultation document and officers’ reports and irrational conclusions drawn;
4. the Council misdirected itself on the means by which its duty to provide a library service could be discharged; and
5. those who had made alternative proposals were not dealt with fairly.
Unless Brent Council backs down the legal process is expected to proceed by way of a judicial review of the council's decision.
John Halford of Bindmans is acting for the campaigners of the threatened libraries. He is a human rights and public law department partner who acts for individuals and groups to challenge abuse of power, human rights breaches and discrimination. He has experience of bringing cases against a wide range of public bodies and organisations, and of advising national charities, NGOs, campaigning groups and regulators. In 2007 he won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award for social and welfare law. 

David Butcher from Kensal Rise speaking on behalf of the Brent SOS Library Campaign said,
Thousands of people across the whole of Brent are supporting the campaign to save the local community libraries of Barham, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton. 

While Councillors Ann John and Powney are using the resources of Brent Council to force through the closures local people are determined to fight their closure plans all the way.
Brent SOS Libraries; Save Our Six Librarie have agreed to raise funds for the judicial review of the council’s decision. The Legal Services Commission requires a ‘community contribution’ of £30,000 towards the costs. Each of the library groups has pledged to raise a contribution.

Library campaigners are asking everyone to donate £5 if they can afford it. Campaigners are hopeful that the money will be raised quickly.

Information about how to make donations can be found on the website www.brentsoslibraries.org.uk

Meanwhile Save Kensal Rise Library Campaign who had advertised a lobby of Cllr Powney, who is spearheading the library cuts, claim that he went into hiding when his electorate arrived to see him on  May 7th. LINK

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