So we all trudged back at High Noon (Do not ofresake me oh my Darlin') to hear Judge Pearls decision. The reading of the judgement took approximately an hour. It was a very long and detailed analysis, which i won't bore you with the details of. The judge basically said that granting a possession order would infringe the rights of protestors as defined in Sections 10 & 11 of the Human rights act, but this was ouitweighed by the requirement of the council to be able to market the building in a fair and proper manner. The possession order was granted with the caveat that the council had to try and negotiate a license with campaigners to allow the peoples library to continue in a volunteer manner until such time as new tenants were found.
The defendents asked for leave to appeal the decision. Judge Pearl announced that it was not in her remit to grant or block this. It looks like we'll all be doing this again at the appeal court.
It goes without saying that I believe this whole court case to be a massive own goal. The case has galvanised local support behind the library and the council has been made to look completely out of touch. In September, when the council first found out that the library was occupied, meetings were held and progress was made towards a solution. This halted abruptly when lawyers advised the officials holding the talks that they couldn't continue. With todays judgement, it is likely that the process will be restarted. The only difference will be that thousands of pounds have been wasted on a trial and maybe thousands more on an appeal.
One small item which Barnet must be given credit for was the decision not to persue one of the defendents, Keith Martin for costs. I sincerely hope that the dialog can be restarted in a proper spirit and a temporary license concluded to allow continuation of the Peoples library. Barnet Council may have won a battle, but a consensual agreement may mean we all win the war, keep a local resource and save a fortune in legal costs.
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