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'Emotional day' for disabled campaigner at high court during start of judicial review into One Barnet scheme
A disabled campaigner taking Barnet Council to court over its outsourcing scheme described the start of today’s judicial review as an “emotional” occasion.
Maria Nash, 67, watched as her lawyers laid out the basis of her legal challenge during the first day of the three-day hearing at the high court.
The former holistic therapist claims the authority did not properly consult residents on its decision to outsource almost £700million of public services in its One Barnet scheme.
Speaking after the hearing, she said: “It was very interesting. I found it inspiring in a way because we’re finally here and getting the chance to express what we feel.
“It is quite and emotional day. It feels good that someone is recognising us.”
Following a morning session in which lawyers accused Barnet Council of putting up a “smokescreen” to cover its lack of consultation, Nigel Giffin QC, for Ms Nash, went on to examine the council’s claims of how it consulted residents.
The court heard that claims of consultation, due to be put forward by the authority’s legal team tomorrow, did not meet the legal requirement.
Mr Giffin said the authority had ample opportunity to conduct a “proactive” process of consultation.
The council claims it did ask residents during a ‘leader listens’ session with Councillor Richard Cornelius, as well as citizens’ panels and an online survey.
But Justice Nicholas Underhill, hearing the case, said the authority’s legal team “had some work to do overnight” to put forward a solid argument that they amounted to proper consultation.
There was also confusion among both benches about what exactly the citizens’ panels consisted of.
Mr Giffin closed the day saying: “Normally when a public body carries out a consultation, it is not this much hard work to find it before establishing whether it was adequate.”
Ms Nash’s lawyers are due to finish giving their arguments tomorrow before Monica Carss-Frisk QC puts forward the council’s defence.
The hearing is expected to last all three days.