April 25 2014 Latest news:
Tara Brady, Senior reporter
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Case due to heard on Friday has been deferred
A ruling by the High Court on whether Brent Council should shut six libraries will not be made until October.
It had been thought the verdict of a judicial review challenging the council’s decision to close half of the borough’s reading rooms may have been passed at the Royal Courts of Justice this Friday.
The landmark case could set a precedent for other libraries earmarked to close by local authorities across the country.
Since November last year, campaigners have been fighting to save Preston, Barham Park, Tokyngton, Kensal Rise, Cricklewood and Neasden.
Margaret Bailey, who is one of the claimants who brought the case to the High Court, said: “Most campaigners would say this has been a valuable lesson in local democracy, or the lack of it. It is astonishing that a Labour council, which represents a party that historically has always supported the provision of free local libraries, should so blatantly disregard the wishes of communities, communities who for the most have put that council in power.”
Despite 82 per cent of respondents voting against the library closures, the council went ahead with its controversial plans.
An umbrella group, called Brent SOS Libraries, was set up to represents all six of the reading rooms.
Campaigners have argued that children in Brent will be the worst affected if the libraries close.
They also say closures could lead to indirect discrimination against ethnic groups, the elderly and disabled.
If the High Court rules in favour of the council, it is not yet known when the libraries will close.
Ms Bailey added: “.
“Brent’s arrogance and disregard will not be forgotten.”
The controversial plans will save the council £1 million over two years.
Councillor Ann John (Labour) OBE, leader of the council, said: “The delay to the decision means uncertainty for members of staff. It is painful for them. This is a landmark case and the judge has to get it right. We will just have to be patient.”