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.
The demolition of Willesden Green Library, in High Road, Willesden, so it can be redeveloped, has also caused outcry.
A council spokesman said: “Visitor numbers have dropped because six libraries have been shut since October 13 last year. However, as part of the Libraries Transformation Project we have introduced seven-day-a-week opening at our remaining six libraries.
“Comparing visitor numbers in February 2012 to February 2011, there has been an increase at Brent Town Hall, Harlesden, Willesden Green and Kilburn Library. We will continue to improve the service we offer and over time we expect to have more people using our six libraries then under the old service last year.”