CAMPAIGNERS who lost a legal battle to prevent Brent Council closing half the borough’s libraries have vowed to continue their fight out of court.
Brent SOS (Save our Six) Libraries group were refused leave by the Supreme Court on Friday - on the eve of National Libraries Day - to appeal a decision by the Court of Appeal that sanctioned the closure of Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton branches to save £1million.
Margaret Bailey, a director and trustee of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and one of three who took the case to court, said: “I think in this instance what the judges have done is simply state the council decision was lawful, meaning it’s lawful to make cuts, but the impact of that is that things like the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act could be disregarded if local councils don’t have the wherewithal to enforce them.”
Despite campaigners’ legal options being exhausted, they said they will continue to lobby culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to order an inquiry into whether the Laour-run authority is fulfilling its duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the Friends of Kensal Rise Library want the council to consider proposals to run their library as a community project with volunteers at no cost to the taxpayer.
Mrs Bailey said: “The time has come for a new partnership. By seeking to re-open our local library, the Friends seek not only to make books and facilities available, but to promote social cohesion in these tough economic times. We appeal to Brent to work with us to preserve this vital local resource.”
A Brent Council spokesman said: “Following the final decision of the Supreme Court fully vindicating Brent Council’s actions and upholding the earlier decisions of both the Court of Appeal and the High Court, that the council acted lawfully, we will carefully consider the proposals submitted by the Friends of Kensal Rise.”
The legal battle, which cost more than £100,000, began in July at the High Court with a judicial review in July last year that came down in favour of the council and ended on Friday with the Supreme Court’s order.
Brent SOS Libraries will have to pay Brent Council’s costs of the most recent case.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “We monitor closely changes made to library services in England and we will take a decision on whether to intervene in the case of Brent soon, now that the judicial review process has concluded.”