Members of the Preston Library Campaign, took up residence in Preston Community Library, a temporary reading room in Preston Road, Wembley, for a Charles Dickens reading session.
Read more here.
One year on, Brent SOS Libraries campaign marked the closure of our libraries with a torch relay between all 7 libraries, stopping at Barham Community Library, before winding its way to the newly inaugurated Preston Community Library where a marathon read of Alice in Wonderland was held. A vigil was held at Preston Library itself before we moved onto a party at the Windermere. Phew!
A year since our libraries were closed, Brent SOS Libraries will be running it’s own Light of Learning torch relay through each site, linking each and renewing our commitment to reopening all of them.
At 5pm it’ll arrive at Preston Library, where we will have guest readings, before a good old knees up at The Windermere at 6pm. Expect great music, raffles and free buffet! (Map + itinerary below)
But the fun will begin earlier at 2pm, when Preston Community Library will reopen at 235 Preston Road with a marathon reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. So come along!
Alongside the Light of Learning torch relay marking 1 year since library closure PRESTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY will reopen at 235 Preston Road, with a marathon reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
We would like chidren to come and help us read Alice from start to finish.
Please let us know if your child would like to take part.
- 2pm: Formal Opening of the Reading and Lending Room at 235 Preston Road
- 5pm: Torch arrives outside Preston Library
- 6pm: Party at the Windermere Pub, Windermere Ave
PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US – We have over 2,000 donated books. We will only have about 700-800 in the reading room at any one time.
The reading room will open on Sunday mornings from 10am until 1pm starting this Sunday 14th October. It will also open on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 4.30pm starting 18th October.
PARKING IN PRESTON ROAD IS FREE ON A SUNDAY provided it is not an event day at the Stadium
The performance poets Tim Wells, Fran Isherwood and Chuquai Billy are pleased to appear as part of The Kilburn Comedy Festival. The evening is in support of Preston Library.
- Tim Wells is a poet who’s performed world-wide. He’s toured the U.S 12 times and been translated into many languages including Chinese. He is a regular guest poet on BBC Radio London and is writer-in-residence with Tighten Up .
- Fran Isherwood‘s poetry is a wry and playful gallop through the vagaries of life encountering mail-stealing snails, lollipop ladies, Glam Rock, insomnia and macabre part-time jobs en route.
- Chuquai Billy is a Native American performer from the Lakota Sioux/Choctaw Nations. His material is friendly, funny and (mostly) historically correct with observations on life on the native reservation, life in the UK versus the US and on current affairs.
They will be joined by other quick-fire poets and the audience can judge the winner.
Tickets: £8 (£5 Concessions/Friends of Preston Library) – Book on 07773951099 or on the door.
The bookshelves are gone – Brent Council has started work on the temporary classrooms that will live inside Preston Library for the next year or two. But the community library will be back, and on a sunny Friday and Saturday, we notched up loads more members.
New hope for Preston Library campaigners following meeting with Brent Council leader – Kilburn Times
Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which books combust - died this week aged 91.
We shall miss him.
Hat tip: the fair Geraldine.
The financial mismanagement of Brent Council continues unabated. The cost of refurbishing Kilburn library has gone up from £117,000 to £650,000 – an extra £half million has been found to upgrade one of the least-used libraries in Brent.
The original figure formed part of the Library Transformation Plan that new leader Mo Butt is determined to see through. That figure was therefore approved by the executive when they voted for closure last year.
In just 18 months, the figure has increased five-fold. No justification for the increase has been put forward by Brent Council.
Very interesting article in tonight’s Kilburn Times.
Tonight the new leader Cllr. Muhammed Butt will be sworn in. On the same day, workers arrived to clear Kensal Rise library of books.
Thankfully a protest prevented it from happening. Coincidence?
Well, the embattled library -snatcher Cllr Powney (who almost lost his post last week) claims the new leader “has been part of the executive that has backed the library closures all the way”.
Butt himself claims he knew nothing about it.
Barham Library campaigner, Cllr. Paul Lorber believes this was actually a move to finally close down Kensal (the only one to have held onto its books) by the outgoing head, Cllr. Ann ‘Prince’ John.
We have requested a meeting with Cllr. Butt to discuss our library. But he has already said the way libraries were closed down “was not an issue” in the leadership change. Hmm.
Wembley Matters has a thoughtful piece on the demise of Ann John. Well worth a read:
As the dust settles on the Brent Council leadership changes it is worth reflecting on the reasons behind the ousting of Ann John and what it means for the future.
The libraries issue, both the closures and the redevelopment of the Willesden Green Centre, has been the most contentious aspect of Council policy. The presentation as ‘transformation’ rather than closure; the labelling of opponents as self-interested, unrepresentative and middle class; the ignoring of petitions; the suggestion that cheap books were readily available at Tesco; all riled local citizens and the energetic and resourceful campaigners kept the issue in the local press and crucially on the national media agenda.
Read the rest here: WEMBLEY MATTERS: What did for Ann John?.
Martin Francis of the brilliant Wembley Matters blog reports…
The report of the investigation into allegations that Ann John illegally intervened in a planning application, which exonerated her has now been published and is available below.
Apart from the findings the report gives insight into the relationships within the Labour group, concern over the the way the Planning Committee operates and the conduct of the chair, and includes walk-on parts from Navin Shah AM and Barry Gardiner MP. (Read from para 4.40)
It is possible to conclude that although she was cleared of wrong-doing the report’s contents did not help Ann John in her bid to retain the leadership of Brent Council.
Read the report and more here:
This Monday – 21 May – Brent’s Executive will consider a ‘Progress Report’ on the implementation of the Libraries Transformation Project (library closures to you and me).
This remarkable report (which you can read on Brent’s website) barely mentions the huge drop in visits to Brent’s libraries since last October.
It barely mentions the huge drop in books issued by Brent’s libraries.
It does claim that 46% of the users of the closed libraries have moved to other libraries, but doesn’t reach the obvious conclusion – namely that the other 54%, many thousands of people, have been deprived of their library service.
Please come to Monday’s meeting to support the campaign to get our libraries back.
We will be outside Brent Town Hall at 6.15; the meeting starts at 7pm, and members of the public are welcome to attend.
The change of leadership makes this the best possible moment to show that our campaign is alive and kicking, and that we aren’t going to go away.
In a surprising move, it appears that the leader of Brent Council, Ann John has been ousted by her Deputy, Mohammed Butt. Martin Francis of Wembley Matters blog broke the news last night, and has been confirmed by Cllr James Denselow ahead of any official announcement.
Whether ridding Brent of the architect of swinging cuts to libraries, nurseries and services for the elderly and disabled, will actually change anything remains to be seen.Cllr. Butt says he wishes to mend community relations. We hope so too.
James Powney, the executive member responsible for the library closures, apparently survived an ousting himself.
Gareth Daniel, the man lambasted by Lord Laming for his role in the failure to protect murdered 8 year old Victoria Climbie (see 5.5, The Victoria Climbie Inquiry) earns £60,000 more than David Cameron.
The Brent Chief Executive takes home £203,342 each year, plus £28,793 in pensions from the council that has one of highest pension deficits in the country.
Meanwhile, 24 council workers take home more than £100,000 per year according to the Taxpayers Alliance.
Wembley Matters blog reports on the latest stupidity from General Ann John and the Brent Labour troopers:
Outrage as Brent Council plan to charge citizens for free speech
I thought a speaker at the Willesden Area Consultative Forum might have been rather exaggerating when she likened living under Brent Council rule to living in the Soviet Union but then we read of Brent’s plans to include community groups in plans to licence (and charge) distributors of free literature. I wrote in my blog breaking news of the plans that the definition of ‘political purposes’ would be open to interpretation.
Campaigns around cuts and libraries etc are ‘political’ but not representing a political party. It now appears that Brent’s interpretation is that exempt activities are those of political parties campaigning at election time.
Read rest here.
Brent Labour have long insisted, bizarrely, that halving the number of libraries would somehow double their use. Now we have evidence that this is not true, thanks to Phil Bromberg’s timely Freedom of Information request.
The number of visits to the borough’s libraries have plummeted by thousands since Brent Council axed half of its branches.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that in the five months after the libraries closed, there were nearly 104,000 fewer visits compared with the previous year.
In the same period, 129,449 fewer books were issued.
Library campaigner Philip Bromberg, 52, of Grendon Gardens, Wembley, who submitted the FOI, said: “The figures speak for themselves.
“When you look at the bigger picture, the true scale of the catastrophe becomes apparent. In February 2012 the number of both visits and issues fell more than 20 per cent compared with the year before.
“These figures are really important because it leads to the question – is Brent Council legally providing a comprehensive and efficient library service?”
The council announced plans to close six out of Brent’s 12 libraries to save £1million in 2010. Despite 82 per cent of respondents to consultation saying they were against the closures, the council closed Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton.
With the kind of breathtaking chutzpah that is almost expected of our politicians, Boris has decided that he does indeed support our libraries. A year too late, and after they have closed. I guess there is an election coming.
From Max Walters in this week’s Kilburn Times:
Boris Johnson offers his support to Brent library campaigners
Boris Johnson has offered his support to Brent’s library campaigners – describing the decision to axe half of the borough’s reading rooms as “a real shame”.
The mayoral candidate spoke out about the controversial closures as he visited residents and traders in Preston Road, Wembley, last week.
Although our legal challenge through the courts has come to an end, it is not over. We are now going to challenge the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt on his department’s failure to investigate library closures for more than a year.
We will do this on two fronts. Today, our legal team has sent a letter demanding action. The DCMS met with Brent Council last year, but has so far ignored thousands of complaints made by us.
And tomorrow, the cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport is holding its enquiry into national library closures: Tuesday 7 February, 10.30am, Palace of Westminster, Committee Room 15 (it’ll be packed so get there early)
Over 130 submissions were made by all sorts of groups and people. It makes for very interesting reading.
Dan Jarvis is the shadow arts minister, he is Labour leader Ed Miliband’s libraries’ man.
This week, he told the Guardian how important libraries are, and how he plans to save them.
The benefit of libraries to communities is harder to measure, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, in libraries large and small, from Barnsley to Bermondsey.
Does this government see it? Libraries minister Ed Vaizey‘s stock line has been: “I don’t run library services. Local authorities do.” He has a point: libraries are run by democratically elected local governments, and they take the lead. But that’s no excuse for doing nothing. It may not be Vaizey’s job to micro-manage every library in the country – but it is his job to be their champion. And that is what he is failing to do.
Blaming the government for allowing them to close, he is silent on the fact that in Brent, it is his own party that has been fighting for the right to close libraries.
And as Boyd Tonkin pointed out yesterday:
the myopic idiocy of these false economies cuts straight across party lines
As we wait for Jeremy Hunt to get up off his behind and do his job, is their any politician who is willing to walk the walk??
Campaigners leading the fight to save Brent’s closed libraries are not giving up hope and have vowed to carry on. The news library supporters had been dreading was announced today – that the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, will not hear their case.
Margaret Bailey, who helped to take the fight to the High Court and the Appeal Court, said: “Obviously the decision is disappointing, and worrying that judges are able to make decisions that allow for the disregard of laws that are meant to protect people simply so that councils can make cuts. What next? Ignore the Equalities Act, the Human Rights Act because they may be too expensive to enforce?”
Samantha Warrington, Preston Library supporter, believes there should be a public inquiry. She said: “We have always been pursuing other routes. Now the legal avenue has closed we hope there will be a public inquiry and that Brent will consider alternatives in a way Camden has done it so positively.”
Read whole article here.
It appears between our Con-Dem government and Labour council, our library has suffered its terrible fate.
Boyd Tonkin of the Independent sums it up:
…the myopic idiocy of these false economies cuts straight across party lines. In spite of ferocious competition, from Cumbria to Dorset, I would argue that no local authority has behaved with quite such pig-headed arrogance in pursuit of the destruction of much-loved branches as Labour Brent.
Which makes it dismaying, if predictable, that the libraries initiative now launched by shadow arts minister Dan Jarvis contents itself with kneejerk Tory-bashing and fails to examine the mess on Labour’s own municipal shelves.
No wonder so many public-spirited people run a mile from party politics when they see that participation will mean having to check in both mind and heart at the committee-room door”
The fight is far from over. The hall was packed, reinvigorating all of us. Preston needs it’s Library and a fair deal from the council.
Children’s activity day @ Preston Park School, College Road… 10.15am – 4pm… Storytelling, pop-up library, guest authors, art corner..and more.
What the Dickens! Celebrate 200 years of Dickens @ The Windermere… 7.30pm… Readings, Open Mic, guest poets and of course ale. Come dressed up in your favourite Victorian garb.
Who said Preston Library is dead??
Alongside Sir David Attenborough and Rebecca Adlington, our campaign seems to have inspired people across the country and The Independent on Sunday. Not quite as hilarious as employee of the week
Team of The Year of course, so we are very happy.
IoS Great Britons 2011
The Independent on Sunday brings you its highly subjective list of the 50 natives of these isles who did most to lift our mood in difficult times. We also mourn those we have lost; ridicule those who deserve it; and celebrate the most inspirational foreigners
Brent library protesters
Residents fighting the closure of six libraries in the London borough of Brent represented the outrage felt by much of the nation’s readers and researchers about cutbacks by staging a round-the-clock protest outside Kensal Rise Library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain 111 years ago. The campaigners were the first in the country to seek a judicial review into library closures.
@The Preston Pub (opposite Preston Library)
7.30pm (for 8pm start)
Professional quizmaster, raffle and prizes!
Come along and show your support for a hard fought campaign. It’s not over yet!
Author Kamila Shamsie writes in today’s New York Times...
The part of North London I live in borders the council of Brent, now the site of an intense legal battle to save local libraries that has become the vanguard for similar efforts around the country. On Dec. 29, police officers held back protestors outside Preston Library while local government officials removed all its books, impervious to the nearby poster of Santa, a speech bubble over his head saying “Don’t rely on me; give kids their books back.” Since April 2011, 423 libraries have either closed down or been slated for closure — that’s almost 10 percent of all libraries in Britain.
Read the rest here.
The team who closed your library won not one but two awards in December. While the cash-strapped council wasted another £15,000 in celebrating Sue McKenzie (below, centre) and her team’s noble achievement in destroying Preston, Private Eye came up with a rather more accurate award:
ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2011
WHO’S been bullying the electors; who’s been pocketing the brown envelopes; and who doesn’t know the difference between “astronomy” and “astrology”? Find out if your local authority is guilty of crimes against the council taxpayer and picked up a gong in the Rotten Borough Awards 2011…
Congratulations to Brent council’s “team of the year”. Yes, it’s the Library Transformation Team, whose successful 2011 has seen the closure of six of the London borough’s 12 libraries in the face of community outrage.
Yesterday, contractors pulled down the Brent ‘Wall of Shame’ hiding Preston Library. This follows a sneaky move to empty it of books and equipment last week, before any injunction to stop it could be issued.
The Wall, with its popular support from local artists and schoolchildren, has become a major embarrassment to the Council over the last few weeks and they have finally decided that perhaps it was not such a good idea after all
It would be interesting to learn exactly how much this futile exercise of paying contractors to erect the Wall – and then take it down again – has actually cost Council Tax payers.
Unfortunately for Brent Council, the Wall is unlikely to be forgotten – we have photos galore.
Police side with council as it empties the library.Brent takes advantage of the holiday shutdown to pre-empt any intervention from the Supreme Court, where an appeal was lodged two weeks ago.
Campaigners expect the council to rush through the sale of the library in the coming months, depriving the area of its last local service.
For those who missed last week’s carols – you can now sing the special ones around your tree at home. We have shown incredible spirit this year and we intend to continue into the new year.
You can also download and print them here: A Preston Christmas Carol