Brent Council ordered to leave Kensal Rise Library alone

No “irrevocable” steps should be taken before case is heard in Court of Appeal

Kensal Rise Library will not be boarded up until the Court of Appeal has decided whether it is right to close six libraries in Brent.

The Victorian library, which American author Mark Twain opened in 1900, has been guarded by dedicated supporters around the clock since High Court judge, Mister Justice Ouseley, ruled Brent Council should close half of the borough’s libraries last week.

But this morning, the campaigners took their case to the Court of Appeal where it was agreed the library, in Bathurst Gardens, would not be boarded up until the case is heard again in the appeal court.

However, campaigners will have to pay for the cost of security out of their own pocket.

Miss Dinah Rose QC, representing the campaigners, said: “It was of Mister Justice Ouseley’s opinion that it was unlikely irrevocable steps would be taken before the Court of Appeal could deal with the matter.

“Yet on the same day council teams were dispatched to all the libraries and constructed hoardings.

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“On the same day Preston Library and Cricklewood Library were boarded up.

“Kensal Rise not because protesters have been holding vigils outside.”

Miss Rose said the council wrote to All Souls College, part of University of Oxford, which gave the library buildings in Kensal Rise and Cricklewood to the borough as a gift.

If the buildings’ freeholds are reverted back to All Souls College it cannot be undone.

Miss Rose said: “This is a surprise letter given what the judge said last Thursday who anticipated that nothing would be done and knowing that we would be applying to the Court of Appeal.

“Once the reversion is triggered it cannot be undone. We also know that on Monday all stock was removed from Cricklewood Library.”

But Miss Elizabeth Laing QC representing Brent Council, said: “The council has kept the six libraries open and have struggled with staff to maintain a service at all of the libraries.

“For three months the council has been struggling along trying to maintain service in all six libraries.”

But Miss Rose added: “We were not asking for the libraries to be kept open. We were asking that no irrevocable steps would be taken, but they have already written to All Souls College.”

Lord Justice Elias agreed the case should be heard and it is expected to take place over a day-and-a-half in November.

The matter of who should pay court costs will be decided at the end of hearing.

Speaking after the case, Laura Collignon, campaigner, said: “We are absolutely delighted we have been given permission to appeal and are grateful to our lawyers who have moved mountains for us over the last few days. We are extremely pleased that the case has got to the Court of Appeal so quickly and that Kensal Rise Library will not be boarded up.”

The Labour-run council has already closed Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Tokyngton, Preston, Cricklewood and Neasden libraries.

The move will save the council �1million.