Outcome of Brent Judicial Review

Voices for the Library would like to express our disappointment with this morning’s ruling over the future of Brent libraries.  We would also like to re-state our support for library campaigners in Brent who have fought so hard to protect their library service for the good of the broader community.

The victory for Brent council sends out a very worrying message for library campaigners everywhere.  Council leaders across the country may look to this ruling to justify library closures and will see this ruling as the legal backing they require to go ahead with planned library closures.  They would be wrong to do so. Mr Justice Ouseley remarked 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. Councils should not, therefore, see this outcome as an excuse to cut their own services in a similar way.

Libraries across the country provide a vital service for many across the boundaries of society.  From young and old to rich and poor, libraries provide services for everyone. In the age of the internet it is easy to assume everyone has access to a wealth of free information.  The reality is that there are 9 million people in this country who are not connected to the internet.  For those 9 million people, the library is the only resource they have.  For parents of young children, the library plays an important role in supporting their development and improving their literacy skills.  For the elderly it is a vital lifeline to ensure they are not excluded from society.

Those who care about libraries across this country must come together and ensure that this ruling does not have the effect that many council leaders desire.  Together we can make a difference.  Together we can put pressure on Ed Vaizey to fulfil his commitment as Minister for libraries and ensure that library services across the country are truly comprehensive and efficient.  Write to Ed Vaizey and your councillors, get involved in local campaigns, encourage everyone you know to support and use their local library.  Together we can stop our library service being totally destroyed by those that do not understand the benefits they bring to local communities.

To the campaigners in Brent, we also say that whilst we share your disappointment, we hope you continue to fight your case at every turn.  You can be assured that we will stand and fight with you.  Today has undoubtedly been a setback but the outpouring of support for public libraries throughout the day should remind us that our cause is right.

Campaigners from Brent and around the country will be meeting on Saturday 22nd October at  University of London Union to co-ordinate efforts. See here for more details.

See here for a response from Unison and here for a response from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

Update: 20/10/11

Brent campaigners have been granted permission to appeal the decision made by Mr Justice Ouseley. The appeal is due to be heard in three weeks.

2 thoughts on “Outcome of Brent Judicial Review

  1. Margaret Bailey

    As you may now know we have been granted leave to appeal the decision of Justice Ousley. the appeal is due to be heard in about three weeks.
    In the meantime Brent is not able to board up our library or remove any of the books. They have done this to some of the other libraries and it is truly shocking for the people in those communities to see such sights.
    Our campaign is certainly not over although we welcome the respite from standing outside the library in the freezing cold. Our community has responded magnificently and made sure we have been fed and watered throughout the day and night, with one supporter stting his alarm for 3am to make sure we had hot drinks. We cannot thank our community enough for the support they have shown.
    We also really appreciated the brilliant messages of support from others, heartening indeed.
    We will be at the library conference on Saturday and can perhaps thank peple in person.
    Regards, best wishes and thanks,
    Margaret Bailey

  2. Rachael Newberry

    Thank you Margaret. This has been a truly heart-warming campaign which has brought our community together in ways that we could never have imagined. In the last week I have met people that I would have not talked to otherwise, lovely local people who are genuinely upset about the loss of their local library. They do not understand why the council have done this, and even more they fail to understand why the people they have elected will not speak to them. The intransigence of the council on this matter has been outstanding. All we really want at this stage is to be able to talk to the council on a without prejudice basis. This is standard form in legal cases. But whatever the outcome, the kindness and generosity of all the local residents has been so moving. People have brought food, drinks, money, books, themselves and their good humour and it has been a truly humbling experience. Brent Council will never be able to take that away from us.

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