Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Brent Libraries Latest - We got leave to appeal!

Quick update on Wednesday 19th October - but you don't really need me - you can read about this everywhere now - particularly in the Kilburn Times (go, Tara!), Guardian, Evening Standard, Independent, back of your cereal packet, it's everywhere!

But in case you haven't heard, Leave to Appeal against Mr Justice Ouseley's judgment was given today by Lord Justice Elias, a single judge of the Court of Appeal (that's how it works) which is fantastic news.

Our new QC, Dinah Rose, then asked Lord Justice Elias for interim relief to prevent Brent from taking any irrevocable steps (ie which would make it difficult or impossible to re-open the six libraries) until the hearing of the Appeal. She explained that Brent was prepared to agree that Kensal Rise library would not be boarded up on the condition that the appellants (that's the named claimants, but in practice backed up by the whole Save Our Six campaign) pay the cost of security to secure the site.

She also explained that Brent will write to All Souls College (you'll remember that if either Kensal Rise or Cricklewood cease to be used as libraries they revert to the college) saying that no steps have been taken to date which have had the effect of triggering the "reverter covenant".

Miss Rose rightly complained to Lord Justice Elias about Brent's hasty steps to permanently close the six libraries - that they dispatched teams on the very day of the Judgment to construct hoardings (she handed up a photo of Preston Road library boarded up), and that it was only the constant presence of protestors at Kensal Rise which prevented boarding up there. All this activity was going on while Miss Laing, on behalf of Brent, was assuring Mr Justice Ouseley last thursday morning that "it was unlikely that any irrevocable steps would be taken until the Court of Appeal was seized of the matter" (ie until the Appeal was heard)

It was Miss Rose's view that it was "a surprising position for a public authority to have adopted before a Judge" (which was music to our ears)

She also explained (and this is shocking too) that on the day before the Judgment Brent wrote to All Souls college telling them that the disposal strategy for the four unincumbered libraries (ie other than Kensal Rise and Cricklewood) was being implemented, that all six libraries were closed, staff made redundant, libraries being cleared and security provided at the sites, and that they'd welcome a discussion about what to do with Kensal Rise and Cricklewood.

On Monday Brent removed all the stock from Cricklewood Library.

You might almost think that Brent wanted the reverter covenant to come into effect...

It was Miss Rose's view that "Brent's conduct, particularly in relation to Cricklewood and its contact with All Souls college, was surprising, to say the least, given the remarks by the Judge and their silence in the face of it" (because while the Judge was under the impression that Brent wouldn't do anything hasty they had already written to All Souls)

This was part of an argument about the costs of today's hearing, but it's so startling it's worth setting out at some length (sorry, this legal language is clearly catching).

Miss Laing's reply on behalf of Brent was that they were entitled to take those steps, and the Judge agreed that Brent did not have to pay our costs of today's hearing (but that doesn't matter, it was just fascinating (but depressing) to hear what they'd been up to)

There's a Save Kensal Rise Library public meeting tomorrow, Thursday 20th October, 7.30pm, at St Martin's Church, Mortimer Road

Read about Mr Justice Ouseley's Judgment

Finally, our barrister's name has given me an excuse to include these photos taken today in my garden (Philip, I think the pink rose is Spectabilis - a small, repeat flowering climbing rose)

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