Monthly Archives: February 2012
Having convinced the government and the judiciary that there is NO MONEY FOR LIBRARIES, and that cuts will now be made in essential services, Brent has found £420,000 extra to give to Ward Working, a fund that local councillors spend on grafitti workshops, noticeboards and flowerbeds.
It costs under £400,000 to keep open all 6 libraries closed last year. Less if efficiencies were made. At tonight’s budget meeting, Leader Ann John announced the same amount would now be available Ward Working, raising it’s budget from £800,000+ to more than £1.2 million each year.
Despite thousands of complaints, the DCMS has said it will not investigate the library closures in Brent.
They met Brent Council in June, but have refused to speak to us, or hear our (ample) evidence. Now, after a letter from our legal team challenging their year-long silence on the matter, they have finally spoken.
We have until Thursday March 1 to challenge this provisional decision. Email them (using info below) – firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more about their reasons on Martin Francis’s excellent blog – Wembley Matters
Here is their full response plus an edited version of the letter we sent them – DCMS & Brent Libraries
Tell the DCMS:
- Do you think the consultation was adequate?
- Did they take into account the needs of library users?
- What has been the effect of closure on your family?
Some useful facts:
Pay parking is killing Preston Road, an area that already has no library, no health services, no council services, no sport centre, no adult education services.
Wembley shoppers driven away by increased parking charges and over zealous ticketing
Tara Brady, Wembley Times
This could be the future of the borough’s shopping parades as businesses struggle to survive against increased parking charges and over-zealous ticketing.
Over the past two years Brent Council has been accused of bringing misery to traders and drivers by introducing pay and display across all shopping areas.
It has also increased residential parking permits by up to 300 per cent in some cases in Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) depending on the size of the car’s engine.
But now the Times can reveal that the income from parking fees will be £1.3million less than expected as drivers avoid the highger charges.
However, at the same time the local authority is expected to make an extra £2million than it first budgeted for from parking fines.
Read the rest here.
Like last year, not-quite-World Book Day events won’t be coming to Preston. And we’re not even sure it’s coming to Wembley full stop.
The loss-making Brent Magazine this month proclaims Ealing Road Library to be the top venue for the events on March 1. Yet on the previous page we have just been told it will be closed for improvements between 27 Feb and 26 March.
So will Ealing Road be open or closed on March 1? Should you traipse across town to another closed library? Brent has a habit of closing libraries on a whim.
What is especially galling is:
1. Brent Magazine runs at a loss of £1000+ every month. Further, the advertising that supposedly pays for it, comes from Brent COuncil departments. And many people don’t even receive it.
2. Ealing Road may be being improved, but its not being extended, nor parking added. So it is just as overcrowded and inaccessible as ever.
3. Preston will never get library events. We pay for them though. We have to have our own events
The Great Scot, Robert Burns will be with us in spirit on Saturday 11 February.
Poetry, dancing and a tipple at the Preston Mall Community Centre from 7.30pm
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.
A packed out Windermere nestled in the snow was the perfect setting for us to celebrate Charles Dicken’s 200th anniversary. Following the children’s storytelling day at Preston Park school, it rounded off a hugely successful National Libraries Day, despite yesterday’s bad news.
Readings from the man of letters and Whitbread Prize-winner Paul Bailey and music from the inimicable CLOS made it an night to remember. Let’s not forget the children – and yet more distinguished authors, like Leon Rosselson, Kaye Umansky (below), Daniel Kitts, Dyan Sheldon and Jenny Newland.
Brent has no plans to ever hold an event locally here. That ended when they closed our only portal to the council, and lied to us that they would make it up via “outreach”.
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??
Join us at The Windermere Pub at 7.30pm to celebrate National Libraries Day
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”
Willesden Green may well be the 7th library to close this year. Brent has long been planning to close it for 2 years to rebuild it. It’s a curious story, made curiouser by Labour councillors falling asleep and losing during an important vote on the issue.
Last year, when trying to justify closing 6 libraries, Willesden Green was cited as the successful library, against which ours was a failure:
Councillor James Powney (Kensal Green, Labour), said: “Willesden Green is our most successful library
Ann John reiterated this just a few months ago:
The truth about the closure of the six libraries is that they were the least popular and least visited libraries in the borough…In contrast, the most popular – Willesden Green library centre – had 508,599 visitors.
Now the line is:
The council says Willesden Green Library has struggled to fulfil potential and is poorly designed.
So which is it? For Brent, it’s both. For everyone else, it is the latter. WG is a failure. It not only costs more than all 6 libraries put together, it also fails to attract more users than all 6 put together.
And this is after those user figures have been artificially inflated by situating non-library services and staff offices inside the library, and then counting everyone together.
In other words, Willesden Green is much more expensive and far less efficient than Preston, yet it was our library that was closed. Permanently.