Around seventy supporters of the community-focused immigration and women’s rights charity packed out the hearing at Manchester Civil Court, filling it to the brim. The judge remarked “I’ve never had an audience like this before!”
As the verdict was read out, cheers rung out around the room, handshakes and hugs were exchanged, with the campaign now able to embark on the next legal challenge.
After thirty-five years of serving deprived areas of the city with free and high quality legal advice, the Labour Party led Manchester City Council decided to not to renew their grants, putting the centre’s future under a serious threat.
The court case yesterday was over the right to take the council to a judicial enquiry to complain over the tendering process – or lack of one – which resulted in the cuts. The council argued that the Law Centre’s treatment, whilst it may have been unfair, had no legal justification to take further action.
But the judge rejected that argument, stating that the Law Centre had strong evidence on which to go forward.
The Law Centre is now asking Manchester residents to demand that the council funds legal advice for those who need it, rather than a defence team to stop those campaigning to save their services.
If you’d like to get involved in the Law Centre, and it’s campaign to stay open, go to http://www.smlc.org.uk/