Friday 20th July 2018 was a big day for our client and the Save Southall Town Hall campaign.
In the Royal Courts of Judge Martin McKenna ruled that the London Borough of Ealing had acted unlawfully in the way it sought to dispose of a community asset.
Judge Martin McKenna took under 40 minutes to summarise arguments presented by both sides and deliver his verdict.
He did NOT believe the arguments presented by Ealing Council or the scant evidence provided by them.
In agreeing with our submissions he stated that a sale cannot simply be conducted where the interests and the needs of the community are at stake, rather consideration must be had to whether to sell buildings for less than the highest price where, as in this case, the community are involved. The Ealing cabinet had failed in its legal duties to do this. He was also very critical of the equalities impact assessment that Ealing council and held that they had failed in their duties on this.
This decision is significant and it places councils on notice that they must have in mind working class communities and their community assets before rushing to sell to the highest bidder. It is certainly something that in future cases anti-austerity campaigners may find useful.
Make no mistake this ruling and important legal decision would not have been possible without the marvellous campaign waged by the people of Southall. In fighting the fire-sales that local authorities intend to make over the next period this decision will be an asset in countering those plans.
Judge Martin McKenna quashed Ealing Council Cabinet decision to sell Southall Town Hall.
Ealing Council can appeal against the decision within 21 days but have little grounds for doing so, as they presented little or no relevant evidence at the hearing. Their barrister was unable to respond to the Judge, as he had no one from Ealing Council to instruct him on the matter.
Helen Mowatt and Paul Heron, lawyers from the Public Interest Law Centre were instructed in this case.