Brent campaigners vow to fight on

Brent campaigners vow to fight on

Brent library campaigners have vowed to fight on despite losing their judicial review claim against the closure of six libraries in the High Court this morning (13th October).

Campaigner Samantha Warrington said Mr Justice Ouseley's judgement in favour of Brent council was "very disappointing" and vowed to take the case to the court of appeal. "We believe there are important points of law and principle. The judge didn't think this case had national significance but we think it does."

Laura Collignon, also of the Brent SOS Libraries campaign, said: "It's very disappointing that Brent council have found one other person who agrees with them, and that it was the judge. We fight on."

Mr Justice Ouseley's judgement concluded that "the availability of resources is relevant to what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient service; the library service... [is] not exempt from resource issues and...not entitled in law to escape the budget reductions faced by the council."

He judged that the council had done "quite a detailed analysis of accessibility from the closed libraries to the nearest open ones", including car ownership and public transport accessibility. "The council obviously did conclude, as it was reasonably entitled to do, that most users would go to the remaining nearest library albeit at some cost in time and travel," the judgement states. "The council was entitled to draw the conclusions it did; certainly they were not unreasonable and unlawful."

He also concluded that there was "simply no basis for the conclusion that Asian, Hindus or Muslims are disproportionately affected" by the Brent library closures.

However campaigners from elsewhere in the country may take heart from Mr Justice Ouseley's remark during this morning's proceedings that he did not believe the ruling in Brent had wide significance across the country, but instead reflected a judgement purely on how Brent council had approached its local situation.

The judge refused the campaigners permission to appeal, but they can now apply directly to the court of appeal directly for that permission.

Brent council is now free to press ahead with closure of the six libraries in question. In a statement, the leader of the council Ann John said: "We are pleased that the judge, having carefully considered all the complaints, has found in the council's favour on each and every one. It means we can push ahead with our exciting plans to improve Brent's library service to allow us to offer a 21st century service for the benefit of all our residents." She added: "This has been a very unsettling time for [the] libraries staff and I would like to pay tribute to them for being so professional and hard working in continuing to deliver a first rate service to Brent library users, in spite of these difficulties."

The full judgement in the Brent library case is available here.