Local children plea for library

400 letters written by children to Brent Labour - all were ignored

400 letters written by children to Brent Labour - all were ignored

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STOP PRESS: MPs launch inquiry into library closures

Parliamentary Committee investigates library closuresThe same people who have been grilling the Murdoch’s lately have turned their attention to libraries. This can only be a good thing.

PLEASE WRITE IN. Details below….

Committee announces new inquiry INTO LIBRARY CLOSURES

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee [not the DCMS] is today launching a new inquiry into library closures. The Committee is inviting written submissions and requesting views on the following issues:

  •  what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century;
  • the extent to which planned library closures are compatible with the requirements of the Libraries & Museums Act 1964 and the Charteris Report;
  • the impact library closures have on local communities;
  • the effectiveness of the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention
  • under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to
cmsev@parliament.uk and have ‘Library closures’ in the subject line.
Submissions should be received by Thursday 12th January 2012.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

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I spy…. an update on the Appeal

Thanks to Elaine at I Spy in Queens Park blog for her fulsome account of both days of our appeal…

Brent Libraries Latest – the Appeal

Just back from court 63 where Lord Justices Pill, Richards and Davis have spent the last two days hearing the appeal against Mr Justice Ouseley’s decision in favour of Brent Council on 13th October.

After a slightly surreal start with the usher announcing a case involving the “London Borough of Trent“, conjuring up unlikely images of Ann John as Maid Marion, he corrected himself, and the hearing began.  We have a new barrister – Dinah Rose – and she was very impressive.  She opened the case yesterday with the complicated indirect discrimination point – but she explained it so well that I think all 50 or so supporters – (the court was packed and folding chairs had to be brought it!) may now be able to explain it to someone else.
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Day 1 of The Appeal

Here’s a snapshot of some of the happenings at court yesterday courtesy of Martin Francis. The hearing resumes today at 10.30 at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand.

For more background see our Legal page.


The public gallery  of Court 63 was crowded with Brent library campaigners today as the first day of the Appeal was being heard.  The Appellant’s QC made it clear that the library campaigners’ case was based on the process that Brent Council followed in its consultation and decision to close the libraries, rather than whether it was right to close libraries as such.

She focused particularly on the Council’s failure to recognise that its own data signalled the possibility that the closure of the six libraries would indirectly discriminate against the Asian population of Brent. The figures showed that whilst Asians constituted 28% of the Brent population, they accounted for 46% of library users while the white population of 45% accounted for only 29% of users. As 3 of the six libraries that were closed served areas with higher than average  Asian population,  they were left with only Ealing Road library in the ward with the most dense Asian population. (Before the closure of the other libraries more than 60% of Ealing Road users were Asian)  So not only were people deprived of their own libraries but the remaining library at Ealing Road, as later evidence testified, had become over-crowded as a result of the closures.

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TODAY: Appeal @ High Court – 10.30am The Strand

Brent SOS library campaign will be at the High Court to appeal against the unnecessary closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries by the Labour-run council.

10.30 am at Courtroom 63 – The Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, London.
Rally from 9.30am – Nearest tube: Temple, Holborn and Charing Cross (in that order)

The hearing will last 1 ½ days, possibly extending a little into Friday afternoon. The Appellants’ (i.e. Margaret, Steve and Nipuni’s) new QC, Dinah Rose, will open and close the case with the Council’s QC making her own submissions half way through. Dinah will argue the Council:

  • did not appreciate the likely impact of its plans to close libraries on particular groups in the community, such as Asian people, and without understanding this impact properly could not make a lawful decision compatible with its Equality Act 2010 duties to eliminate discrimination;
  • did not assess need for local library services, especially that of children; and
  • was unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the threatened libraries.

We cannot say for sure when there will be a judgment, but it is likely to be forthcoming very quickly – the Court fully appreciates the importance and urgency of this case.

Details of July’s Judicial Review and outcome here.

The Long March to Kingsbury Library

Thanks to Wembley Matters blog for the account of today’s  Walk to Save Preston Library. Locals from children to octagenarians walked en masse to their “next nearest library” in Kingsbury  from South Kenton. With no direct public transport, the walk highlights how the new library system in miles out.

The march took about an hour, excluding a short refreshment stop.  As one of the slower ones said, “By the time we get there are books will be gone!”

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Public Lies, Private Apologies

Council Leader Ann John (Labour) caught out

Council Leader Ann John (Labour)

So, it turns out that Ann John’s claims about us all living within 1.5 miles of a library, aren’t true.

It’s not just to residents that Brent has been lying to. Ann John and James Powney have been blithely telling the national press the same thing for weeks – in the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph no less.

The retraction was only made after a direct challenge. In private. Don’t expect Brent to be nearly as public with the truth. It’s not their way.

According to the “apology”, it seems we used to be within 1.5 miles from a library when we had them, but not anymore. King John used to tell us that most people don’t live within walking distance of a library (when we had 12 local libraries). Now that she’s closed half, suddenly we do.

We should be used to it. Whether it’s telling us our library was poorly located and low usage (it was neither), or that they are forced to make budget cuts, or  that we are getting a better service… its always the same. But then, as we take our Appeal to the High Court next week, there is – sadly – no law against politicians lying.