Monthly Archives: May 2012
The financial mismanagement of Brent Council continues unabated. The cost of refurbishing Kilburn library has gone up from £117,000 to £650,000 – an extra £half million has been found to upgrade one of the least-used libraries in Brent.
The original figure formed part of the Library Transformation Plan that new leader Mo Butt is determined to see through. That figure was therefore approved by the executive when they voted for closure last year.
In just 18 months, the figure has increased five-fold. No justification for the increase has been put forward by Brent Council.
Ina stunning act of bad faith, Mohammed Butt’s council snuck into Kensal Rise library in the dead of night and stripped it bare. It was the last of the six to get the “Brent Treatment”, and the building will now be handed back to All Souls College, Oxford, probably to be sold.
Having met KR campaigners last week, we understand Cllr. Butt went down there again today to answer angry questions.
Having begun his reign with the news that Kilburn Library’s refurbishment has gone from £117,000 to over £650,000, it seems increasingly apparent that the change at the top has been cosmetic. With Ann John gone, perhaps Brent Labour hopes you will vote for them, even if nothing has really changed.
BRENT COUNCIL CONCEALS DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF LIBRARY CLOSURES
Brent SOS Libraries today reveals the true extent of the damage caused by the library closures in the London borough of Brent.
On Monday night, a “progress” report presented misleading and incorrect information on the so-called “Libraries Transformation Project” to the new Labour executive. Brent SOS Libraries responded with its May 2012 Brent SOS Libraries Report, which shows:
- There have been 167,004 fewer library visits since half of the borough’s libraries were closed in October compared with the same period year on year.
- 158,809 fewer books have been issued.
- Library visits and lending have fallen 20% will continue to fall with the imminent closure of Kilburn and demolition of Willesden Green libraries.
- This has been a net loss of 191 opening hours per week.
Most of the users of the closed libraries ARE NOT USING the remaining libraries, as the council claims. The report that went before the council on Monday failed to mention these key indicators and misrepresented a failing, wasteful service as a success.
Very interesting article in tonight’s Kilburn Times.
Tonight the new leader Cllr. Muhammed Butt will be sworn in. On the same day, workers arrived to clear Kensal Rise library of books.
Thankfully a protest prevented it from happening. Coincidence?
Well, the embattled library -snatcher Cllr Powney (who almost lost his post last week) claims the new leader “has been part of the executive that has backed the library closures all the way”.
Butt himself claims he knew nothing about it.
Barham Library campaigner, Cllr. Paul Lorber believes this was actually a move to finally close down Kensal (the only one to have held onto its books) by the outgoing head, Cllr. Ann ‘Prince’ John.
We have requested a meeting with Cllr. Butt to discuss our library. But he has already said the way libraries were closed down “was not an issue” in the leadership change. Hmm.
Wembley Matters has a thoughtful piece on the demise of Ann John. Well worth a read:
As the dust settles on the Brent Council leadership changes it is worth reflecting on the reasons behind the ousting of Ann John and what it means for the future.
The libraries issue, both the closures and the redevelopment of the Willesden Green Centre, has been the most contentious aspect of Council policy. The presentation as ‘transformation’ rather than closure; the labelling of opponents as self-interested, unrepresentative and middle class; the ignoring of petitions; the suggestion that cheap books were readily available at Tesco; all riled local citizens and the energetic and resourceful campaigners kept the issue in the local press and crucially on the national media agenda.
Read the rest here: WEMBLEY MATTERS: What did for Ann John?.
Martin Francis of the brilliant Wembley Matters blog reports…
The report of the investigation into allegations that Ann John illegally intervened in a planning application, which exonerated her has now been published and is available below.
Apart from the findings the report gives insight into the relationships within the Labour group, concern over the the way the Planning Committee operates and the conduct of the chair, and includes walk-on parts from Navin Shah AM and Barry Gardiner MP. (Read from para 4.40)
It is possible to conclude that although she was cleared of wrong-doing the report’s contents did not help Ann John in her bid to retain the leadership of Brent Council.
Read the report and more here:
This Monday – 21 May – Brent’s Executive will consider a ‘Progress Report’ on the implementation of the Libraries Transformation Project (library closures to you and me).
This remarkable report (which you can read on Brent’s website) barely mentions the huge drop in visits to Brent’s libraries since last October.
It barely mentions the huge drop in books issued by Brent’s libraries.
It does claim that 46% of the users of the closed libraries have moved to other libraries, but doesn’t reach the obvious conclusion – namely that the other 54%, many thousands of people, have been deprived of their library service.
Please come to Monday’s meeting to support the campaign to get our libraries back.
We will be outside Brent Town Hall at 6.15; the meeting starts at 7pm, and members of the public are welcome to attend.
The change of leadership makes this the best possible moment to show that our campaign is alive and kicking, and that we aren’t going to go away.
In a surprising move, it appears that the leader of Brent Council, Ann John has been ousted by her Deputy, Mohammed Butt. Martin Francis of Wembley Matters blog broke the news last night, and has been confirmed by Cllr James Denselow ahead of any official announcement.
Whether ridding Brent of the architect of swinging cuts to libraries, nurseries and services for the elderly and disabled, will actually change anything remains to be seen.Cllr. Butt says he wishes to mend community relations. We hope so too.
James Powney, the executive member responsible for the library closures, apparently survived an ousting himself.
Gareth Daniel, the man lambasted by Lord Laming for his role in the failure to protect murdered 8 year old Victoria Climbie (see 5.5, The Victoria Climbie Inquiry) earns £60,000 more than David Cameron.
The Brent Chief Executive takes home £203,342 each year, plus £28,793 in pensions from the council that has one of highest pension deficits in the country.
Meanwhile, 24 council workers take home more than £100,000 per year according to the Taxpayers Alliance.
The most extensive collection of women’s history in the UK is under threat. Author, comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has spoken out about the threatened Women’s Library in east London, which is facing severe cuts.
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