Monthly Archives: November 2011

SAT 17 DEC: Christmas Party @The Windermere Pub

7.30pm. A chance for the community to celebrate how far we’ve come fighting the good fight.

Not fundraising, just fun!

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Local children plea for library

400 letters written by children to Brent Labour - all were ignored

400 letters written by children to Brent Labour - all were ignored

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STOP PRESS: MPs launch inquiry into library closures

Parliamentary Committee investigates library closuresThe same people who have been grilling the Murdoch’s lately have turned their attention to libraries. This can only be a good thing.

PLEASE WRITE IN. Details below….

Committee announces new inquiry INTO LIBRARY CLOSURES

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee [not the DCMS] is today launching a new inquiry into library closures. The Committee is inviting written submissions and requesting views on the following issues:

  •  what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century;
  • the extent to which planned library closures are compatible with the requirements of the Libraries & Museums Act 1964 and the Charteris Report;
  • the impact library closures have on local communities;
  • the effectiveness of the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention
  • under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to
cmsev@parliament.uk and have ‘Library closures’ in the subject line.
Submissions should be received by Thursday 12th January 2012.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

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Olympians save library (we wish)

Olympic Mascots race in to save a library - if only!

Gloucestershire & Somerset campaigners win legal challenge

Our QC, Helen Mountfield, from our original Judicial Review also represented the Gloucestershire and Somerset library campaigners who were successful today in having their closures declared unlawful:

Campaigners attempting to stop the closure of their local libraries have won a surprise victory in the high court after a judge ruled that the decision to axe services in Gloucestershire and Somerset was unlawful and should be quashed.

In his judgment on a three-day judicial review brought by campaigners in the two counties, Judge Martin McKenna found that local authorities had failed to comply with their public sector equality duties when pushing through the closures.

To the gasps and muted exclamations of the campaigners sitting at the back of the court, he ordered the councils to revisit their plans. “I can see no reason why I should not make a quashing order in respect of the decisions I have found unlawful,” he said. Failure to do so, he added, would send the wrong message to other councils.

Read rest of Guardian article here.

Council tells residents to use libraries in another borough

Ann John remains silent over her clearly false claim we all live near a library. That was before, Ann, not now.

It gets worse, having privately apologised to Cllr. Lorber after he challenged the claim, anonymous spokespeople are now telling us that we do live near a library, even if it belongs to Harrow!

The Brent Council spokeswoman said it was “nonsense” that the council has been misleading anyone.
She said: “It is true that everyone living in the borough is no more than a mile and a half from a library, either in Brent or a neighbouring borough, and many residents choose to use a library in another borough. This was clearly explained in the proposals.’’

(London24.com)

Brent has a legal responsibility to provide a library service for people who live and work in borough. Closing down libraries, and then telling us to go elsewhere is unacceptable and unlawful.

Discriminating Decisions

The wonderful Tara Brady of the Times group has a bit more detail on this key indirect discrimination point argues by our QC, Dinah Rose on Thursday and Friday…

“Asian and non-Asian residents all contribute to the local authority’s budget by payment of the council tax. But it is potentially discriminatory for the local authority to target cuts for services which are disproportionately heavily used by Asians.”

I spy…. an update on the Appeal

Thanks to Elaine at I Spy in Queens Park blog for her fulsome account of both days of our appeal…

Brent Libraries Latest – the Appeal

Just back from court 63 where Lord Justices Pill, Richards and Davis have spent the last two days hearing the appeal against Mr Justice Ouseley’s decision in favour of Brent Council on 13th October.

After a slightly surreal start with the usher announcing a case involving the “London Borough of Trent“, conjuring up unlikely images of Ann John as Maid Marion, he corrected himself, and the hearing began.  We have a new barrister – Dinah Rose – and she was very impressive.  She opened the case yesterday with the complicated indirect discrimination point – but she explained it so well that I think all 50 or so supporters – (the court was packed and folding chairs had to be brought it!) may now be able to explain it to someone else.
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Day 1 of The Appeal

Here’s a snapshot of some of the happenings at court yesterday courtesy of Martin Francis. The hearing resumes today at 10.30 at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand.

For more background see our Legal page.


The public gallery  of Court 63 was crowded with Brent library campaigners today as the first day of the Appeal was being heard.  The Appellant’s QC made it clear that the library campaigners’ case was based on the process that Brent Council followed in its consultation and decision to close the libraries, rather than whether it was right to close libraries as such.

She focused particularly on the Council’s failure to recognise that its own data signalled the possibility that the closure of the six libraries would indirectly discriminate against the Asian population of Brent. The figures showed that whilst Asians constituted 28% of the Brent population, they accounted for 46% of library users while the white population of 45% accounted for only 29% of users. As 3 of the six libraries that were closed served areas with higher than average  Asian population,  they were left with only Ealing Road library in the ward with the most dense Asian population. (Before the closure of the other libraries more than 60% of Ealing Road users were Asian)  So not only were people deprived of their own libraries but the remaining library at Ealing Road, as later evidence testified, had become over-crowded as a result of the closures.

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TODAY: Appeal @ High Court – 10.30am The Strand

Brent SOS library campaign will be at the High Court to appeal against the unnecessary closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries by the Labour-run council.

10.30 am at Courtroom 63 – The Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, London.
Rally from 9.30am – Nearest tube: Temple, Holborn and Charing Cross (in that order)

The hearing will last 1 ½ days, possibly extending a little into Friday afternoon. The Appellants’ (i.e. Margaret, Steve and Nipuni’s) new QC, Dinah Rose, will open and close the case with the Council’s QC making her own submissions half way through. Dinah will argue the Council:

  • did not appreciate the likely impact of its plans to close libraries on particular groups in the community, such as Asian people, and without understanding this impact properly could not make a lawful decision compatible with its Equality Act 2010 duties to eliminate discrimination;
  • did not assess need for local library services, especially that of children; and
  • was unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the threatened libraries.

We cannot say for sure when there will be a judgment, but it is likely to be forthcoming very quickly – the Court fully appreciates the importance and urgency of this case.

Details of July’s Judicial Review and outcome here.

The Long March to Kingsbury Library

Thanks to Wembley Matters blog for the account of today’s  Walk to Save Preston Library. Locals from children to octagenarians walked en masse to their “next nearest library” in Kingsbury  from South Kenton. With no direct public transport, the walk highlights how the new library system in miles out.

The march took about an hour, excluding a short refreshment stop.  As one of the slower ones said, “By the time we get there are books will be gone!”

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Public Lies, Private Apologies

Council Leader Ann John (Labour) caught out

Council Leader Ann John (Labour)

So, it turns out that Ann John’s claims about us all living within 1.5 miles of a library, aren’t true.

It’s not just to residents that Brent has been lying to. Ann John and James Powney have been blithely telling the national press the same thing for weeks – in the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph no less.

The retraction was only made after a direct challenge. In private. Don’t expect Brent to be nearly as public with the truth. It’s not their way.

According to the “apology”, it seems we used to be within 1.5 miles from a library when we had them, but not anymore. King John used to tell us that most people don’t live within walking distance of a library (when we had 12 local libraries). Now that she’s closed half, suddenly we do.

We should be used to it. Whether it’s telling us our library was poorly located and low usage (it was neither), or that they are forced to make budget cuts, or  that we are getting a better service… its always the same. But then, as we take our Appeal to the High Court next week, there is – sadly – no law against politicians lying.

Illogical, Wasteful and Arrogant. Welcome to 21st Century Brent

Willesden Green Library, whose virtues were extolled ad nauseum by Ann John is to be knocked down next year.  And that is one of the saved libraries. So that’s leaves 5 libraries, none of which have enough capacity for the extra users they are supposed to now be serving.

Why? Because it was (whisper it) PERFORMING POORLY. Unlike Preston. And it was supposed to be the place Kensal and Cricklewood users were to go to.

With costs of around £560,000 a year, closing it early would have saved all 6 libraries and then some. Something we proposed in March. Instead the council has decided to keep spending the same  amount of money – without the library.

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Library Transformation

From Wembley Matters blog:

Brent Council’s dismal record of misinformation and disinformation over public libraries, which started of course with the misleadingly named ‘Transformation Project’, has been highlighted again today.

The Brent Magazine, which is still flopping through letter boxes, claimed that all Brent residents were 1.5 miles from a library. Toni McConville, Director of Customer and Community Engagement for Brent Council said:

The information about the 1.5 mile distance that residents would need to travel to a library was provided by the Library Service. An assumption was wrongly made that this meant one of the council’s remaining libraries rather than a library in the vicinity.

I’m sorry for the error and have pointed it out to the communications team so that the mistake is not repeated

.

Saturday: The Walk to Save Preston Library – 1.30pm South Kenton station

Show Jeremy Hunt why Brent’s 21st Century library service is miles out!!

We’re going to walk to our nearest library this Saturday 5 November. Join us and show the politicians just how close Kingsbury library really is.

Everyone welcome – dress as your favourite book or character!

Saturday 5 November – 1.30pm – South Kenton station (Windermere Ave)

Kenton, Preston and Barn Hill ward councillors have been invited – let’s hope they join us and show where they stand/walk!

 

 

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