Shocking cost of Kilburn Library refurbishment

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.

Councillor Mohammed Butt

New leader, old ideas? Photo: Brent & Kilburn Times

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.

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Chief Exec earns more than Prime Minister

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.Gareth Daniel earns more than the Prime Minister

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.

Lorraine King writes in the Kilburn Times:

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Brent Magazine gets it wrong again

Images of the loss making Brent MagazineLike 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

Willesden Green Library – success or failure? Brent can’t decide…

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

(Harrow Observer)

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.

(The Guardian)

Now the line is:

The council says Willesden Green Library has struggled to fulfil potential and is poorly designed.

(Kilburn Times)

 

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.

 

Brent Council blew £15,000 on awards ceremony which honoured library closure team

Brent Council spent £15,000 on an awards ceremony in which the team behind the closure of six libraries was honoured, the Times can reveal.

The council gave out 139 awards to staff at the lavish end-of-year bash at Brent Town Hall earlier this month.

The night cost taxpayers around £50 for every person who attended, the council said. The Libraries Transformation Team, which was behind the project which closed half of the borough’s libraries, was named Team of the Year.

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Is this Brent’s improved library service?

Infographic showing Brent's new 19th century library service

Since October 13 2011, Brent has had 6 libraries. We were all promised a better service.

Implemented for 8 weeks, planned for over a year, this is what the new, improved, ’21st century’ Brent library service looks like:

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Can’t afford libraries ?!?

Brent wastes our moneyApparently not. It costs about £400,000 to keep 6 local libraries open. But Brent has convinced the establishment it can’t afford this. Probably because it is busy wasting £hundreds of millions of taxpayer money (below).

Justice Pill said today:

Given the scale of the spending reductions the council was required to make … a decision that the library service should bear a share of the reduction was not, in my judgment, unlawful.

Perhaps he should have a chat with Gareth Daniel, Chief Executive of Brent Council:

 the reality is that these inevitably controversial initiatives represent just a very small part of our total £42 million savings requirement for the 2011/12 financial year.

Such a small saving has not stopped Brent from spending enormous amounts of (paid) time and money defending the policy.

Brent can’t afford our libraries, but it can afford:

£550,000 for Willesden Green library – about to be bulldozed due to it being a failure. It costs more than 6 libraries put together.

£100 million mortgage on the Civic Centre – this includes that vital £4 million “tree-lined boulevard” – this project hasn’t seen a penny cut.

£3 million on a single mega-library no one asked for.

£17.3 million after failing to collect unpaid debt.

£2.5 million on the salaries of just 19 council officers – putting Brent in the Top 10 Town Hall Rich List 2011.

£205,000 salary for Chief Executive Gareth Daniel – more than the Prime Minister.

£1-2 million per month on consultants.

£800,000 Ward working (half spent on admin alone, and the rest on flowerbeds and graffiti workshops)

£500,000 on Christmas decorations for Willesden Green High Street.

£180,000 a year on the Brent Mayor.

£150,000 a year on the loss making Brent Magazine – paid for by council departments.

That totals around £140 million (give or take) that could be BETTER SPENT on libraries, nurseries and centres for the disabled. It dwarfs the £42million Brent says it needs to save. Priorities eh?