Preston Community Library is a charity incorporated after the closure of Preston Library in Brent in 2011. The charity aims to run the library as a volunteer-run facility and community hub.
In May 2014, at a public meeting Brent councillor Roxanne Mashari promised to hand over the Preston Library property to Preston Community Library “in perpetuity” and “at a peppercorn rent”.
History of the campaign:
Preston Library is a small, single-storey local library in Brent. It is located just off Preston Road and is used by residents of Preston, Barn Hill and Kenton wards.
The Preston Library Campaign was a non-political community campaign. It was set up in response to Brent Council’s proposal to close our library, along 5 others (with Tokyngton, Neasden, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise and Barham Park) – 50% of Brent’s libraries.
We have management consultants, IT experts, journalists, teachers and accountants among us, people with expertise to ensure this community resource is not lost.
We opposed the closure of Preston Library, one of the most efficient, well-used libraries in Brent.
- As the last local service in the area, it provided essential facilities for some of our community, particularly senior citizens and those with limited mobility, schoolchildren, and the unemployed and others who may not have access to a computer.
- Preston Library service was more accessible and meets the needs of a greater number of local people than would a multimillion-pound mega-library at Wembley Stadium, to which many users would find it difficult to travel.
- Brent libraries, once closed, will be closed forever. Alternatives have not been explored. The council is failing to cut inefficiencies and unnecessary spending, preferring to axe 50% of libraries.
OUR ACHIEVEMENTS SO FAR…
- 6000+ signatures opposing the proposal to close Preston Library in 2011
- 10,000+ complaints to Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary to intervene under the Libraries and Museums Act 1964
- Vast amounts of evidence documenting the adverse impact of the deeply flawed
- Organising the first legal challenge in the UK against library closures
- International news coverage
- Helping raise £36,000 to fund legal action as part of the Brent SOS Libraries coalition
- Organised numerous events, including the long-running vigil at the Wall of Shame, fundraisers, public meetings, and the 1st Preston Literary Festival 2012.
After a 5 month long sham consultation, Brent Labour voted to close on April 11 2011. We then instituted legal action at the High Court, which formally ended on Feb 3 2012 when the Supreme Court refused to hear our appeal.
We then challenged the DCMS to make a ruling on whether Brent Council is in breach of its duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” service according to the Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
Preston Library closed on October 13 2011, following our first High Court case. A Wall of Shame went up, but books and equipment remained until Dec 23 2011. The Wall galvanised the community and an embarassed council made frequent attempts to censor the angry messages written across it, eventually pulling it down.
Preston Library is one of only two freehold libraries closed. It is worth £70,000+ and it’s sale appeared lucrative to the council. Until recently, they refused to allow a community library to operate or to discuss a library space in any future development.
In spite of this, local notary Jackie Bunce-Linsell created Preston Community Library based in her tiny office on Preston Roadown pop-up library to fill the void left by the closure.
Why Save Preston Library?
Looking closely at the data, Preston Library was one of the best performing libraries in Brent. Our KEY FACTS refutes each of the council’s multiple arguments for closure.
So why does Brent want to close Preston Library?
It was neither poorly located nor low usage.
- LAND: Close to commuter routes (Metropolitan line) the land is very valuable and is one of few remaining freehold properties.
- DEMAND: The Civic Centre at Wembley Stadium will have a £3million mega-library. The hope is that Preston and Barham Park library users will be forced to migrate, ensuring it isn’t a white elephant.