Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Brent Libraries latest - day 2 in Court 2

Everything that follows is hearsay because I couldn't make it to Court 2 today - but I'll defs be there tomorrow, so stick around- but it's all from reliable witnesses who were only onto their second or third glasses of wine when I spoke to them (at the Philip Pullman event - where else? - which was brilliant btw. More on that anon)

Anyway an impressive number of SOS supporters made their way down to the Strand again, to man the barricades outside the building and to fill up the back of Court 2 and the public gallery as much as possible.

Our impressive QC Helen Mountfield finished putting her case to Mr Justice Ouseley (a very senior and well-respected Judge), dealing with Brent's further failings including the particularly inadequate consultation and way in which Brent had dealt with the 9 community proposals (all rejected, as we know, because they would involve some cost to the council).

The QC appearing for Brent (Elizabeth Laing) opted to open her case with minutes to go before the lunchtime adjournment, and she kicked off with the seven secret criteria which Brent applied in assessing the community proposals (not to be confused in any way with the Seven Pillars of Wisdom). This turned out to be a bad opening gambit as the Judge was not impressed with Brent's wisdom, or their repeated references to a "robust business plan".

They really are attached to this term: it also pops up in Elizabeth Laing's "Detailed Grounds of Resistance" (her defence to our claim). Brent expected proposers to read into it the (unpublished) detailed criteria on the grounds that they were "obvious"! Sue Harper (Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services) asserts in her written statement:

"It was clear that there was some community interest [in the 6 threatened libraries] so part of the policy proposal was that a clear approach would be developed to voluntary organisations who wished to present a robust business case for running library services in the vacant buildings at no cost to the council"

The clear approach referred to was the seven secret criteria which Sue Harper agrees were not published in advance or otherwise disclosed.

After lunch the case rolled on, with the Judge  querying many of Elizabeth Laing's points (hooray! but of course we can't infer anything from it... it could still go either way).

And here's a picture of a cat with no legal background struggling to put on a pair of barrister's bands

Tomorrow I'll post a proper first hand account of the day's action

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