Saturday, 13 July 2013

Barnet Council in the dock #2: One Barnet Judicial Review

Barnet resident Maria Nash and her lawyers will be at the High Court on the Strand once again, Monday 15-Tuesday 16 July. They hope to persuade Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls and the second highest lawyer in the land (I understand), that Barnet Council's privatisation programme 'One Barnet' is illegal and should be stopped from going ahead.

Barnet Council have put in place various measures to get around the fact that they should not be implementing One Barnet until this legal process has run its course. They seem to be hoping that, even if he finds against them, the judge will deem so much water to have flowed under the bridge already that One Barnet has become an unstoppable tide.

That seems wrong to me, but sometimes facts on the ground count in the real world more than the realm of legal rights and wrongs. (A sort of parallel universe.)

Barnet Alliance for Public Services will be in court to support Maria. If you have some free time in the day in central London on Monday and Tuesday, do go along to the Royal Courts of Justice: it is an interesting experience and more people deserve to hear what is actually said in court, which can often reveal much more than the simple verdict.

For example, during the first round in the court, Mr Justice Underhill heard the argument on whether or not Barnet Council had consulted residents about One Barnet - as they are legally obliged to - and found that they had not, even though he ruled against Maria Nash on the grounds of the timing of her appeal for a Judicial Review. This imminent hearing is an appeal against that judgment.

Barnet Council have had to replace their barrister for this hearing; the new person couldn't be less persuasive than their last choice, who is not free in July, but, to be fair, it was a very tough gig making this administration look good!

P.S. If you want to follow Tweets from the court on Twitter, follow @barnetalliance and the hashtag #barnetjr (short for Barnet Judicial Review).

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