On Monday, our inimicable Geraldine Cook put together our very own World Book Night event at the Windermere Pub (well Brent weren’t going to!), celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday and St George’s day in one fell swoop.
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.
A full 10 months after meeting Brent Council, the DCMS finally met with Brent SOS Libraries campaign yesterday to hear our evidence against the mass closure programme of 2011.
This meeting was vital as we have not had the chance to challenge Brent’s use of misleading and inaccurate information throughout the process. With library use plummetting, we are asking for an inquiry under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.
Brent SOS Libraries are seriously concerned that Brent Council is not fulfilling its statutory duty under section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. There has been a dramatic fall in library visits and issues since the closure of half of the borough’s libraries.
The refusal to engage with community groups, even when those groups offer to run library services at no cost to the council, should also be a cause for concern.
Brent Council has provided misleading and inaccurate information to the Secretary of State, such that the Secretary of State cannot take material provided by Brent Council at face value. In the circumstances an inquiry should be ordered.
Brent SOS Libraries’ written submission to DCMS…
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.