Brent Council defers library sites sale as High Court challenge begins

Plans to put two buildings on the market have been put on ice

Council chiefs have put their plans to sell off two library sites on ice for a month.

Yesterday (Monday), a report recommending placing Preston and Tokyngton library be placed on the market was deferred until an Executive meeting in August.

If they are sold, Brent Council could make more than �1 million from the two sites.

This morning (Tuesday) seees the start of a judicial review at the High Court challenging the council’s decision to axe half of the borough’s libraries.

In addition to Preston and Tokyngton, the council are closing Barham Park, Kensal Rise, Neasden and Cricklewood libraries to save �1million despite huge opposition.

In a consultation carried out by the council, 82 per cent of respondents were against the closures and alternatives offered by residents to save their branches were rejected.

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Determined campaigners, who vowed to fight the plans, launched a crusade which has seen high-profile names such as Zadie Smith, Alan Bennett, Depeche Mode and Nick Cave throw their weight behind the cause.

An array of fundraising events have taken place to help raise the �30,000 needed to fund the judicial review.

So far around �12,000 has been raised.

Law firm, Bindmans LLP, will be acting on behalf of the group, and the nations’ eyes will be cast on the case which has set a precedent.

Margaret Bailey, co-chair of the campaign to save Kensal Rise Library, said: “A lot of hard work has been done by communities across Brent to get this case to court.

“We would rather not have gone down this road, but the council has shown such disregard and disdain for what communities have said they want that we had no option but to pursue our campaign through legal means.

“We all hope that the outcome is a fair and positive one for communities, not only for Brent but throughout England.”