Brent Council in the Dock – day 3

As promised, here is a update on day 3 of the hearing which ended yesterday. You can read it on the BBC, or even the Belfast Telegraph.  Here is a fuller account of the arguments, courtesy of Benedicte Page at the Bookseller:

Judgement in the judicial review into Brent council’s proposed library closures may be given in August, the judge Mr Justice Ouseley said yesterday (21st July), on the concluding day of the High Court proceeding.

Earlier Elizabeth Laing QC, representing the council, had countered the argument made by the claimants’ lawyers that Brent had “closed its mind” to alternative proposals made by community groups for the running of the six libraries proposed for closure. Laing told the court correspondence between interested parties and the council showed “engagement between officers and groups on this process” and that proposals to run the service were assessed by officers in accordance with published criteria—”a robust, viable business case at no cost to the council.” But the proposals made had been “unrealistic”, the court heard.

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Brent Council in the Dock – Day 2 cont…

We’re actually coming to the end of day 3 now, the final day of the hearing. I will post an round up what happened today later on.

But in the meantime, you might be interested to hear what happened yesterday, on day 2 when we finished our bit and Brent began their defence.

Save Kensal Rise Library did an excellent write up on their site:

…for many watching, it was the arguments made about Brent’s inadequate consultation process and the failure to properly consider community proposals that really hit home, and some of these arguments seem to have resonated with the judge…

As did the venerable Elaine from ‘I spy in Queens Park’.

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Brent Council in the Dock – Day 2

It’s day 2 and Brent Council have begun their defence. The hearing will continue tomorrow at the same times to allow us to respond to their defence. It was a full house again today, as dedicated campaigners from all over Brent came to hear what the Council has to say for itself. Both and the were in attendence – though the big story will be when the verdict is announced. There were scurrilous rumours that the verdict would come tonight, which we promptly scotched. The hearing won’t be done till tomorrow so a verdict today would be very premature. It’s most likely to come next week.

For a fuller account of yesterday’s hearing, see Elaine’s account in her I Spy in Queens Park blog here:

A large group of Save our Six supporters rallied by the Strand entrance to the Court from 9am onwards, with banners and the eye-catching red t-shirts.

Once inside there was a slightly surreal moment as there was a previous application about whether a woman had been illegally detained under immigration legislation once a medical examination had revealed scars on her inner thighs which were diagnostic of her having been tortured (in the country from which she’d fled). One hard-of-hearing library supporter, after listening for about 20 minutes, asked “Is this the application against Brent council?”

Meanwhile the public gallery was being dusted down (literally) and given a quick squirt of furniture polish to make space for the 60 or so SOS supporters who couldn’t all fit in to the main part of the court.

I Spy in Queens Park

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Brent Council in the Dock: Day 1

Despite Murdoch’s best efforts to monopolise the media, our legal challenge was  featured in national, London and local media, with more to come…

Besides our good friends at Wembley & Brent Times and the Wembley Observer,  we were in (deep breath)….

The London Evening Standard ITV London Tonight The Daily Mail The Independent BBC The Guardian

Metro London 24Bearsden Herald


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Protestors force deferral of decision to sell Preston Library


Brent Council tonight dramatically withdrew proposals to dispose of half of its library properties in an eleventh-hour U-turn the night before it was due to defend its actions in the High Court.

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Council’s contempt for High Court proceedings…

…Further embarrassment for Jeremy Hunt exposed

Media Release: 18 July 2011


Brent Council tonight dramatically withdrew proposals to dispose of half of its library properties in an eleventh-hour U-turn the night before it was due to defend its actions in the High Court.

In the first legal challenge against library closures in the country, Brent library users’ case against the council will be heard in the High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday (19 & 20 July 2011).

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Mon 18 July – Preston Library for Sale

7pm Monday 18 July Monday evening will see the Council Executive, the lovely bunch who unanimously voted to close our library, decide whether to sell the Preston Library building (and Tokyngton) or not.

7pm Brent Town Hall – committee rooms 1,2 and 3.

Please come and show your opposition to the short-sighted sale of our last public building. Once it is gone, it is gone.

Preston Road under attack

Closing the only public use building in the area isn’t enough. Selling Preston Library off isn’t enough.  Brent intends to introduce parking charges on Preston Road – because:

 “It’s fairer for everyone for all shopping areas in Brent to have a pay and display rather than Preston Road being the only one that doesn’t.” (Council Spokesperson)

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What is wrong with Brent’s figures?

The council told us Preston Library is

“low usage and poorly located”

They say: the cost-per-visit is very high (it is expensive to run and not enough people visit it). It is on this argument they are closing it. BUT when we looked at the same figures, and did a few more calculations, we found a very different picture.


  1. Has the HIGHEST Issues per visit of any library
  2. Has the HIGHEST ratio of books issued to stock
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TONIGHT – An Evening with Dame Harriet Walter

Acclaimed stage and screen actress, Dame Harriet Walter will be at the North London Tavern this Wednesday 13 July in conversation with author DEBORAH MOGGACH, reading from her favourite pieces and roles.

Join us for this exclusive evening organised by the Preston Library Campaign. Tickets are £10, available on the door or Email Us.

Wed 13 July
7pm – The North London Tavern, 375 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7QB

Listen again to Harriet on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs on Sunday:

BBC Desert Island Discs
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Pub Quiz proves Preston uses its library

Last night’s pub quiz at The Preston pub was another huge success… it’s clear plenty of residents have been reading up (though others clearly need to spend even more time in the library – you know who you are!)

The Brent SOS library campaign continues – we are touring school fairs and other local events to remind people of 2 things:

1. Preston Library is NOT CLOSED, and the battle goes on to keep it that way.

2. The public need to DONATE and help us raise money to stop the library’s closure. There is no other way.

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Ed Miliband slams Labour-run Brent Council: “closing libraries is a false economy”

As our sister campaign at Kensal Rise Library reports, the Labour leader has spoken out against the closure of libraries. This raises the pressure on Cllr. Ann John, the Brent Labour leader, to change course on her library closure plan.