Brent Council rejected all proposals by residents to take over doomed libraries
Town hall failed to give enough information about criteria for takeover, it has been claimed
Council chiefs turned down every proposal given by residents to take over the six libraries earmarked for closure, it has been claimed.
Helen Mountfield QC, who is representing three Brent library users, told the High Court today (Wednesday) none of the groups stood a chance because their business plans resulted in some cost to the council, which the council viewed as not viable.
In the first case in the country, Brent Council has been taken to court for axing six libraries – half of the branches in the borough.
Campaigners have challenged the decision by lodging a judicial review at the High Court.
Despite a consultation showing 82 per cent of respondents were against the plans the reading rooms in Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton are to close.
For the past two days, Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley has been listening to evidence claiming the local authority’s decision was “unlawful”.
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Ms Mountfield argued that the closures could lead to indirect discrimination against ethnic groups, the elderly and disabled.
She also said the consultation was flawed as “people were not given enough information’’.
Criticizing the council’s decision to turn down all of the community group’s proposals to run the libraries she said they had not been given enough information about the criteria which needed to be met.
She added: “If this criteria had been disclosed then they would have been able to address the criteria. It might have made a difference to what the council thought.”
In defence, the barrister representing the council argued: “This isn’t a case of closing libraries because the council couldn’t afford to run them. It has always been about improving the library service.”
The campaign to save the six branches has seen the backing of a host of stars including musician Nick Cave, boy band JLS, playwright Alan Bennett as well as Depeche Mode and The Pet Shop Boys.
Best selling author Philip Pullman will join Willesden novelist Maggie Gee at a fundraising event at Queens Park Community School, in Aylestone Avenue, Queen’s Park, tonight from 7pm.
The High Court hearing continues tomorrows.