Brent Council justifies mass closure of libraries in a variety of ways.
|We need to save money
||All 6 libraries cost less than £400,000 p.a. Yet millions are wasted while essential services are cut.
- The £100 million Civic Centre with its £3 million mega-library and £4m boulevard has seen no cuts to its budgets.
- Chief Executive Gareth Daniel earns more than the Prime Minister
(More on the missing millions)
|The closed libraries were low usage and poorly located
||Of the 12 libraries, Preston was one of the best performers in Brent. By the council’s own figures:
- Has the HIGHEST Issues per visit of any library
- Has the HIGHEST ratio of books issued to stock
- Is the SECOND most cost-effective by cost-per-issue
- Has the FOURTH highest number of visitor numbers per square metre (higher than Willesden Green and Kilburn) – i.e. it’s highly cost-effective use of space
- Is the FIFTH most cost-effective as measured by Cost per Visit
- Issues the FIFTH most books in the borough
- Is the FIFTH most cost-effective by hours open
- Preston Library is located off a busy high street, serving 3 wards and at least 5 schools, one of which has no library of its own
- It is an accessible single-storey building with no significant upgrade needs
(Why the discrepancy?)
|To improve the library system as a whole by focussing on fewer libraries
||The remaining 6 libraries are overcrowded, need upgrading and have poor transport links.
- all were designed for local use, are small, and have little or no parking
- There has been no increase in bus services or creation of direct routes to enable users to travel to distant libraries
- vague promises of outreach has failed to materialise. Schools know nothing of plans for children, and limited numbers of “vulnerable people” qualify for a monthly delivery of books they cannot choose
We can expect only 3 fully functioning libraries in the near future. Of the remaining 6:
|Preston is affluent, and doesn’t need a library as badly
- The council used data from 2001, ignoring the current financial crisis, soaring unemployment and the demographic changes in Preston resulting from the expansion of the EU and refugees fleeing war in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
- By more recent council data, the area is seeing increasing deprivation.
- Preston Library provided a vital community space in which different groups could interact and learn together.
Why we need this library
Preston Library was the only local service in the area. Brent now has a two -tier library system. Local and accessible to some, and distant and costly to others.
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.