Brent council failed to comply with its legal obligations under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act when planning the closure of six of its libraries, the High Court was told on the first day of the judicial review brought by three Brent residents yesterday.
While meeting its obligation to put in a lawful budget, the council fixed on a means to achieve its ends without first properly identifying the range of needs it had to meet and without open-minded consideration of the full range of options at its disposal, the judge Mr Justice Ouseley heard.
Speaking for the claimants, Helen Mountfield QC told the court that a body could not decide what a "comprehensive and efficient" library service was unless it had a rational and informed view of what people's needs from a library service were, but that the council had failed to carry out an equality impact assessment while its plans were still at a formative stage.
By the time the document was produced it was less than a fortnight before the executives' decision and was "a piece of advocacy and justification for the decision they were advocating rather than a genuine tool in the decision-making process," the court was told.
The court also heard that the council had "closed its mind" to alternative proposals for delivering its library service in partnership with third parties.
The judicial review continues today.
Author Philip Pullman is in conversation with author Maggie Gee at Queens Park Community School in Kensal Rise this evening (20th July) as a fundraiser for the campaign to save six Brent libraries. Tickets on the door, opening at 6.30 p.m., or from Queens Park Books, 0207 625 1008.