Brent warned not to close libraries "by stealth"

Brent warned not to close libraries "by stealth"

The lawyer representing Brent library campaigners has warned Brent council not to undermine the borough's library services while both parties await the results of July's High Court judicial review.

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Ouseley, has indicated he will not publish his decision until October. John Halford of law firm Bindmans, which represented the campaigners, said: "This is an important test case and it is clear that the court is giving it a commensurate degree of thought and attention.

"Brent has, so far, refrained from taking any significant steps to implement the closure decision under challenge and we understand it will continue to hold back from doing so over the summer period out of respect for the court process. Were existing services undermined or imperiled while the case is ongoing, we would, of course, need to take action to protect them such as seeking an injunction...We trust that will not be necessary.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat group leader for Brent Council Paul Torber said he had written to the council warning it not to close the six libraries affected "by stealth." Barham Park, Tokynton, Neasden, Kensal Rise, Cricklewood and Preston libraries should remain open with current opening hours and a full programme of activities while the judgement is pending, he said. "I am concerned that Labour [who dominate the council] may try to pre-empt the judge’s decision by reducing opening hours and failing to re-stock or fully staff the threatened libraries. This is not acceptable," he warned. "It is still not too late for Labour councillors to abandon their half-baked plan to shut half of Brent’s libraries.”

A Brent Council spokesperson said: “Brent Council gave a voluntarily undertaking to make no irrevocable changes to the library service before the court hearing. We will continue to abide by that undertaking while we await the judgement.”