Brent Council’s fight to close libraries clocks up �154k legal bill

Campaigners claim money could have been used to keep branches going

Brent Council have run up a legal bill of more than �150,000in its battle to keep six of the borough’s libraries closed, the Times can reveal.

The figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by library campaigner Sagar Shah shows that their legal costs to date now stand at �154,837.04.

Mr Shah, who lives in Preston Road, Wembley, accused the council of not listening to residents in consultation meetings.

He said: “I spoke to Cllr Ann John (leader of Brent Council) several months ago and warned her that people were so upset that the council were not listening in the consultations.”

Since the council announced its intention to close Barham Park, Neasden, Tokyngton, Kensal Rise, Preston Road and Cricklewood libraries to save �1million, campaigners have fought against the decision taking it to the High Court.

After the High Court ruled in favour of the council, undeterred they then took the case to the court of appeal, and are awaiting a decision.

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Campaigners claim the costs incurred would have been enough to have kept all six libraries open until at least March 2012 while also allowing time for an agreement as to how to manage them in the future.

A spokesman for Brent council said the library programme was subject to a thorough public consultation and both public and direct meetings were held with residents.

He added: “It is regrettable that the council has had to spend money on legal fees but this was unavoidable because of the action that was brought against the council.

“We have attempted to keep fees to a minimum by using our in-house legal team as much as possible.”