Our QC, Helen Mountfield, from our original Judicial Review also represented the Gloucestershire and Somerset library campaigners who were successful today in having their closures declared unlawful:
Campaigners attempting to stop the closure of their local libraries have won a surprise victory in the high court after a judge ruled that the decision to axe services in Gloucestershire and Somerset was unlawful and should be quashed.
In his judgment on a three-day judicial review brought by campaigners in the two counties, Judge Martin McKenna found that local authorities had failed to comply with their public sector equality duties when pushing through the closures.
To the gasps and muted exclamations of the campaigners sitting at the back of the court, he ordered the councils to revisit their plans. “I can see no reason why I should not make a quashing order in respect of the decisions I have found unlawful,” he said. Failure to do so, he added, would send the wrong message to other councils.
Philip Pullman has lambasted Brent council for its comment that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfil “exciting plans to improve libraries”, describing the statement as a “masterpiece” which “ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity”.
“All the time, you see, the council had been longing to improve the library service, and the only thing standing in the way was – the libraries,”
Pressure is mounting on embattled Brent council leader Ann John and Culture councillor James Powney, as hundreds of residents – over 400 – turned out to hear Alan Bennett in support of Brent’s libraries at a sold-out event, packing full a large church, and raising almost £5000 in one evening alone. The event was also broadcast on BBC Newsnight and has had widespread press coverage, both national and local.
…Labour Party members are said to be furious with Powney and Ann John’s behaviour, and have voted through a motion of no confidence in the Council Executive’s handling of the library closures, fearing a huge defeat on an unprecedented scale at the next council elections.
Read all about it, and see the Alan Bennett video here.