Jun 8 2011 By Tara Brady
PAPERS calling for a judicial review into the decision to close six libraries in Brent have been taken to the High Court.
Now the case has been issued, Brent Council will be asked to prepare its defence disputing allegations that shutting down half of the borough's reading rooms is unlawful.
John Halford, solicitor for Bindmans LLP, is handling the case for the campaigners and was at the High Court last Thursday (June 2).
He said: "Brent sought to characterise its proposals as a 'transformation' of the borough's libraries but in reality, it has simply swung a wrecking balls through local services with little regard to the consequences for those who use them.
"It is bad enough that it should happen anywhere in the country, but Brent's residents, especially the borough's children, face huge social and economic disadvantages which the decimation of library provision will greatly exacerbate. Everyone recognises that the council's resources are constrained. But it is for that very reason that the law demands decisions like this one are made with scrupulous care and that alternatives to service cuts are not rejected out of hand."
Barham Park, Preston Road, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden and Tokyngton libraries have all been earmarked to close.
Eighty two per cent of people who took part in the council's 'Libraries Transformation Project' consultation oppose their closures.
The challenge against Brent Council is being brought by three claimants, including Margaret Bailey, manager of Kensal Green Under Fives Community Nursery. She said: "The threatened libraries are important for everyone who lives, studies or works locally, but especially for low income families and their children.
"The cost of closure to the community, in terms of cohesion and our children's future will be devastating and incalculable. We are determined to ensure they remain open and trust that the court will quickly see Brent's decisions make no sense - legally or otherwise."
Councillor James Powney (Labour), responsible for libraries, said the council has been advised not to comment on the legal challenge but added: "We are confident that we have a strong case and that we have came up with the best strategy in the current financial climate."