Monthly Archives: October 2011

SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER – Save Preston Library Disco Dance

Dance and party the night away with your friends to hits from the 60s, 70s 80s and now!
Bring snacks and nibbles to share!
FREE PARKING – RAFFLE – LICENSED BAR

7.30-midnight
Preston Mall Community Centre, The Mall, Kenton, HA3 9UA
£6

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TODAY: Special Delivery for Jeremy Hunt

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At 10 am, we went to the DCMS in central london to present 12,000 signatures and hundreds of letters to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt.  400 were by kids alone. We demand he fulfil his responsibility to.investigate whether Brent’s new library service is “comprehensive and efficient” (as it should be under Museums.and Libraries Act 1964).
He met the council in June, but has he heard our side? Nope. The sheer volume of complaints to him should persuade him to do so.

 

Philip Pullman declares war against ‘stupidity’ of library closures

Philip Pullman has lambasted Brent council for its comment that closing half of its libraries would help it fulfil “exciting plans to improve libraries”, describing the statement as a “masterpiece” which “ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity”.

“All the time, you see, the council had been longing to improve the library service, and the only thing standing in the way was – the libraries,”

said the His Dark Materials author, speaking at the national conference of library campaigners on Saturday.

Read the rest of Alison Flood’s article in the  Guardian.

MONDAY: Preston Pub Quiz

It’s back!

Monday 24th October
7.30pm at The Preston Pub
£5/3

Raffle and laughter guaranteed.

Preston Vigil continues – volunteers welcome

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The people who thought it would be easy to deprive us of our last remaining service, who thought we don’t care enough, never expected their Wall of Shame would be transformed into our community message board, telling Ann John that we want our library back.

It’s half term, the weather was very nice today and we plan to stay put, collecting letters and signatures to demand the government intervenes – they will only do this if we bury them in letters and petitions. We are running a rota, so if you fancy volunteering an hour of your time this week, please let us know. There is food, chairs and plenty of friendly people to meet. It’s actually really good fun!

Email ussaveprestonroadlibrary@gmail.com

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Council required to leave libraries alone until Appeal in November

The Guardian (among others) writes:

A judge has fast-tracked an urgent hearing of an appeal against Brent council’s closure of six libraries.

Lord Justice Elias granted an appeal against a ruling made last week in the high court that Brent council’s decision was lawful. He ordered that attempts should be made for it to be heard before the court of appeal on two days early next month.

Brent council has agreed, in the meantime, to take no irrevocable steps to prevent the libraries reopening in the event of the appeal being won.

Campaigners have mounted vigils outside two of the threatened libraries, Preston Road, which has already been boarded up by the council, and Kensal Rise, to ensure they are not emptied of books or computers while the legal dispute continues.

The valiant campaigners who have braved the cold outside Preston night and day since Monday can breathe a small sigh of relief.   You have made national news and we salute you.

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Library campaigners mount vigils to prevent Brent council clearing shelves

The day the council came to cart away our books, a plucky band of Preston-ers were there to stop them…including:

My favourite photo

Geraldine Cooke, a publisher just back from the Frankfurt Book Fair, stood close by, honking defiantly on a red horn

given to her in Germany by a US erotica publisher in a gesture of intellectual solidarity. Every now and then, her honks were answered by passing cars.

Cooke, who, along with her fellow campaigners, has been organising petitions and raising £30,000 for a legal fighting fund, said she had no plans to give up the battle. “I think we’ll do it for as long as it takes, even though we’re not many people down here,” she said, nodding at the seven other protesters. “There’s no doubting the passion of the people here.”

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Locals prevent removal of books from Library…for now.

Volunteers urgently needed to keep an eye on the library – spare half an hour and keep watch through the day.

This morning valiant Preston locals stopped Brent Council removing books and equipment  from the library – a step which could be considered irrevocable ahead of a planned appeal to be lodged this week. In other words, we need to stop anything else happening to our library, or it may be impossible to reverse even if we win an appeal.

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The Day the Vandals Moved In…

…and we vowed to avenge our library. We must stop the council from removing books and furniture from OUR library.

At time of writing, Kensal Rise library remains ‘open’ as children and adults heroically prevented the council from boarding it up. It has been a 24 hour vigil. For LIVE updates click here.

Meanwhile, dozens Preston library users were aghast to find a huge wall as they came to…er… use the library after school. Clearly the council had prepared the closure in advance of the verdict.

 

 

 

We will continue the fight to save much-needed libraries

Today we got our verdict on Round 1 of Brent residents v the Labour Council.  Mr Justice Ousley today dismissed a judicial review brought by campaigners seeking to overturn Brent Council’s decision to close half of its public libraries.

The solicitor, John Halford of Bindmans LLP said:

“Today’s judgement means that half of Brent’s libraries remain under threat and has very troubling implications for library closure decisions nationally. That is why Ms Bailey, Ms Desoysa and Mr Lester will be pursing an appeal and the local campaign will renew its efforts to expose the senselessness of Brent’s decision. It cannot be right to decimate the library service of an inner London borough whose children are desperate to read and study but whose parents cannot afford books nor the transport costs of regular access to distant libraries. Nor is Brent right to say the threatened libraries are unnecessary to meet local needs. The passion and commitment of the community campaign to keep them open shows that is nonsense.” (full press release here)

We are not just a bunch of NIMBYs trying to save a defunct service, this is the biggest campaign Brent has seen in half a century – 10,000 + signatures, 82% opposition to the closure plan, including almost every school in the borough. We use our libraries, we value them, and we need them. Brent Council can easily afford to keep them open, and their loss means a decimated, two-tier library service that will fail residents.

Margaret Bailey, on behalf of Brent Libraries SOS campaign said:

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Residents can expect just 3 functioning libraries in “21st Century”

As Brent Council slashes library services in half, telling people to “buy books in Tesco” and “get on a bus”, little do residents realise that of the 6 remaining libraries, only 3 are ‘fit for purpose’. Kilburn “needs major upgrade”, Willesden Green is set to be knocked down and rebuilt and funding is being sought for Kingsbury to be rebuilt/enlarged. That leaves just 3 usable libraries in Brent Council’s vision of a “21st century library service”.

Preston users have been told to go to Kingsbury, but this is clearly not big enough. So where will they go? The new £ 3 million mega-library our cash-strapped council found money for. How convenient. At least for the council. It’s too far for children, the elderly and disabled (who most use the existing library) , there’s no parking and rising public trasport fares make this ‘free’ service, not so free.

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STOP PRESS: Verdict to be announced Thursday

Our judicial review – the first in the UK – took place in July and the wait for a verdict is almost over. This Thursday 13th October at 10 am at the High Court (Strand), we will find out just what Mr Justice Ousely  has to say about library closures in Brent in a ruling that could affect local councils across the country.

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Council ‘wasted £70,000 in legal fees it could have spent on books’

Another example of Brent Council wasting our money – read the article in   here.

Campaigners have almost reached the target £30,000 to fund the legal action against the closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries. It would cost just £1m to keep them all open, and a reduction of hours across the board would achieve the same savings (according to the council’s own figures) – yet the Council ignored massive opposition from residents and ploughed ahead with the cuts.

First they claimed it was financially necessary, but under fire for spending a whopping £3m on a new mega-library as part of a £100 million Civic Centre project (at a time of deep recession), they switched to arguing that the cuts would improve  library services! Nobody seems sure how losing local libraries in communities that clearly value them is an improvement.  These are libraries that are far from under-performing: Preston Library is one of the most efficient and highest usage library in the borough.

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