Blog Archives

PRESTON LIBRARY CAMPAIGN VICTORY

Thanks to your support – and with your help –

Preston Library can reopen in 2015

How many of us who regularly used Preston Library or walked past it, knowing that we could drop in to borrow a book or DVD, read a paper, use a computer, study or read undisturbed, or enjoy all the cultural, social and essential activities that were hosted in the facility?

The loss of the library left a gaping hole in the heart of our community and deprived residents, young and old, and students of a vital service.

However, Brent Council has now promised to donate the Preston Library property to the local community to operate a volunteer-run library service.

The Friends of Preston Library, who have been campaigning against the closure of our library, and Preston Community Library, which has been offering book-lending and other services in the absence of a council-funded library, are delighted to be given the opportunity to restore and enhance the facilities offered by the Preston Library project.

This is great news for the community.

Sign up to our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook to see how you can get involved with the reopening of Preston Library.

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Brent’s library campaigners spread festive cheers throughout the borough – News – Kilburn Times

Despite the recent cold weather and long nights the borough’s library campaigners were out in force to spread festive cheer this week.
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Members of the Preston Library Campaign, took up residence in Preston Community Library, a temporary reading room in Preston Road, Wembley, for a Charles Dickens reading session.

Read more here.

Join us for A Christmas Carol: Thurs 20 – Sat 22 December

Local Writers and Actors reading Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ followed by Carol Singing in Preston Road, Thus 20th; Fri 21st; and Carols on Sat22nd.

Sat 13 Oct – Light of Learning Torch Relay comes to Preston – 5pm

A year since our libraries were closed, Brent SOS Libraries will be running it’s own Light of Learning torch relay through each site, linking each and renewing our commitment to reopening all of them.

At 5pm it’ll arrive at Preston Library, where we will have guest readings, before a good old knees up at The Windermere at 6pm. Expect great music, raffles and free buffet! (Map + itinerary below)

But the fun will begin earlier at 2pm, when Preston Community Library will reopen at 235 Preston Road with a marathon reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. So come along!

Light of Learning - Brent SOS Libraries Torch Relay - Sat 13 Oct

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Sat 13 Oct: 2pm – Alice in Wonderland MARATHON READING

Alongside the Light of Learning torch relay marking 1 year since library closure PRESTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY will reopen at 235 Preston Road, with a marathon reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

We would like chidren to come and  help us read Alice from start to finish.
Please let us know
if your child would like to take part.

  • 2pm: Formal Opening of the Reading and Lending Room at 235 Preston Road
  • 5pm: Torch arrives outside Preston Library
  • 6pm: Party at the Windermere Pub, Windermere Ave

PLEASE COME AND SUPPORT US – We have over 2,000 donated books.  We will only have about 700-800 in the reading room at any one time.

The reading room will open on Sunday mornings  from 10am until 1pm starting this Sunday 14th October. It will also open on Thursday afternoons from 2pm to 4.30pm starting 18th October.
PARKING IN PRESTON ROAD IS FREE ON A SUNDAY provided it is not an event day at the Stadium

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Mon 22nd Oct – Preston Pub Quiz is back

Mon 22 Oct - Preston Pub Quiz

Preston Pub Quiz returns!
Monday 22nd October 2012 – 7.30pm doors £5/3
@ The Preston Pub, 161 Preston Road, Wembley

Thur 13 Sep: Kilburn Comedy Festival

The performance poets Tim Wells, Fran Isherwood and Chuquai Billy are pleased to appear as part of The Kilburn Comedy Festival. The evening is in support of Preston Library.

8pm @ The North London Tavern – 375 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7QB – MAP

  • Tim Wells is a poet who’s performed world-wide. He’s toured the U.S 12 times and been translated into many languages including Chinese. He is a regular guest poet on BBC Radio London and is writer-in-residence with Tighten Up . Tim Wells
  • Fran Isherwood‘s poetry is a wry and playful gallop through the vagaries of life encountering mail-stealing snails, lollipop ladies, Glam Rock, insomnia and macabre part-time jobs en route. Fran Isherwood
  • Chuquai Billy is a Native American performer from the Lakota Sioux/Choctaw Nations. His material is friendly, funny and (mostly) historically correct with observations on life on the native reservation, life in the UK versus the US and on current affairs.Chuquai Billy

They will be joined by other quick-fire poets and the audience can judge the winner.

Tickets: £8 (£5 Concessions/Friends of Preston Library) – Book on 07773951099 or on the door.

Preston Community Library Open Day

The bookshelves are gone – Brent Council has started work on the temporary classrooms that will live inside Preston Library for the next year or two. But the community library will be back, and on a sunny Friday and Saturday, we notched up loads more members.

Preston Community Library NOW OPEN

Titus the Barham Bear goes to Preston Community Library

Titus the Barham Library Bear, popped in to Preston Road Library on Friday to check out the new facilities. He was impressed. Photo: Francis P Henry

Envious of the success of temporary libraries by our Brent SOS buddies at Kensal Rise and Barham Park, Preston Community Library, long in the pipeline, is up and running – in the doorway of our beloved library.

Please borrow. Please return. Please get involved.

Mark Twain House: Brent needs ‘mental food’

An open letter to the powers that be from the trustees of Mark Twain House, Connecticut (US):

Dear Secretary Hunt, Minister Vaizey and Brent Council Members,
Good morning!

I would like to grab a moment of your time and some brief attention as you hurriedly prepare for the arrival of the Olympians this Summer.  Stateside, we are all very excited to see how you celebrate this monumental event!

There is great anticipation for the Olympics as it is a wonderful opportunity for the world to come together in the spirit of competition and excellence.It is, of course, also an opportunity for you to showcase the assets of your great city.
One of the assets of any city, any culture or any society great is its repository of knowledge. Mark Twain, the man we honor here at his home in Hartford, CT, USA, knew this when he said:

“A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.”

The one thing Twain might not have anticipated a library having to survive is our current economy. Another of his wonderful quotes:

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

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New hope for Preston Library campaigners following meeting with Brent Council leader – Kilburn Times

Cllr Muhammed Butt outside Kensal Rise Library

Campaigners from the Save Preston Library Campaign met with Cllr Butt to discuss potential plans for the future use of the site.

Philip Bromberg, who is part of the campaign to re-open the building in Carlton Avenue East, told the Times in a statement: “In what was a very friendly meeting, we spent an hour or so discussing the future of Preston Library and agreed to meet again in the very near future to continue the discussion.”

Continue reading article at Kilburn Times website

Open letter to Jeremy Hunt. We await his courteous reply.

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.  Jeremy Hunt at Leveson

Last week, he endured six straight hours of questioning by Robert Jay QC at the Leveson Enquiry set up to investigate the phone hacking scandal:

Mr Jay asks whether Mr Hunt feels comfortable with the series of texts between himself and James Murdoch. Mr Hunt says his interpretation was that in his quasi-judicial role a “courteous reply to a text message was fine”.

So Murdoch’s acolytes get immediate replies to messages out of courtesy, while tens of thousands of library campaigners are ignored. Hmm.

His department ignored us for a year, then rushed a meeting in April 2012. Meanwhile they have been in close contact with Brent for 10 months.

Despite all our evidence, we are still being ignored. Read on (it’s worth it):

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“To destroy a culture you don’t need to burn books, only remove them” – Ray Bradbury

Image Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which books combust –  died this week aged 91.

We shall miss him.

 

 

Hat tip: the fair Geraldine.

THIS SATURDAY: Preston Library Clean-Up at 1pm

Preston Library on Google Street Maps

They may have removed our banner in the dead of night, but the world can still see it on Google street maps.

Many of you will have noticed that in the months since it closed Preston Library has become something of an eyesore – infested with weeds, and a magnet for litter.

You could, I suppose, argue that this mess is a fitting monument to the work of Ann John and Gareth Daniel, but this was – and will again be – our library, and we have decided to clean up and re-plant the front garden.

Please join us outside Preston Library this Saturday, 9 June, at 1pm. Read the rest of this entry

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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167,004 lost library visits: the true cost of closures

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.

Brent SOS LIbrary campaigners hold placards outside Brent Town Hall

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Kensal library survives a ransacking ahead of Butt’s inauguration

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: What did for Ann John?

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?.

WEMBLEY MATTERS: Full report into allegations against Ann John published

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:

WEMBLEY MATTERS: Full report into allegations against Ann John published.

MONDAY: Lobby the Brent Executive – 6.15pm: Brent Town Hall

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.

Ann John ousted

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.

 

Where there’s a Will!

On Monday, our inimicable Geraldine Cook put together our very own World Book Night event at the Windermere Pub (well Brent weren’t going to!), celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday and St George’s day in one fell swoop.

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WEMBLEY MATTERS: Outrage as Brent Council plans to charge for free speech

Wembley Matters blog reports on the latest stupidity from General Ann John and the Brent Labour troopers:

Outrage as Brent Council plan to charge citizens for free speech

I thought a speaker at the Willesden Area Consultative Forum might have been rather exaggerating when she likened living under Brent Council rule to  living in the Soviet Union but then we read of Brent’s plans to include community groups in plans to licence (and charge) distributors of free literature.  I wrote in my blog breaking news of the plans that the definition of ‘political purposes’ would be open to interpretation.

Campaigns around cuts and libraries etc are ‘political’ but not representing a political party. It now appears that Brent’s interpretation is that exempt activities are those of political parties campaigning at election time.

Read rest here.

MONDAY: Shakespeare meets St George on World Book Night

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The number of visits to Brent libraries plummet by thousands

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.

Tara Brady reports:

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.

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The next stage: challenge the DCMS

Louise Mensch and Tom Watson from Media & Culture Select CommitteeAlthough our legal challenge through the courts has come to an end, it is not over. We are now going to challenge the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt on his department’s failure to investigate library closures for more than a year.

We will do this on two fronts. Today, our legal team has sent a letter demanding action. The DCMS met with Brent Council last year, but has so far ignored thousands of complaints made by us.

And tomorrow, the cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport is holding its enquiry into national library closures: Tuesday 7 February, 10.30am, Palace of Westminster, Committee Room 15 (it’ll be packed so get there early)

Over 130 submissions were made by all sorts of groups and people. It makes for very interesting reading.

You can find our 3 submissions at pgs 133, 366 and 544 as well as one from Barry Gardiner MP (pg. 583) and the inevitable defence from Brent Council (pg. 608). You can read them all here.

VIDEO: National Libraries Day

Thanks to Your News UK Community TV

Sat 4 February – National Libraries Day

Children’s activity day @ Preston Park School, College Road… 10.15am – 4pm… Storytelling, pop-up library, guest authors, art corner..and more.

What the Dickens! Celebrate 200 years of Dickens @ The Windermere… 7.30pm… Readings, Open Mic, guest poets and of course ale. Come dressed up in your favourite Victorian garb.

Who said Preston Library is dead??

Poster for Children's activity day

2012 – The Fight Goes On!

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Tuesday 31st January – Public Meeting

poster announcing a public meeting for Preston Library on 31 Jan 2012

Our campaign named one of 50 Great Britons 2011 by Independent on Sunday

Alongside Sir David Attenborough and Rebecca Adlington, our campaign seems to have inspired people across the country and The Independent on Sunday. Not quite as hilarious as employee of the week

Team of The Year of course, so we are very happy.

IoS Great Britons 2011

The Independent on Sunday brings you its highly subjective list of the 50 natives of these isles who did most to lift our mood in difficult times. We also mourn those we have lost; ridicule those who deserve it; and celebrate the most inspirational foreigners

Brent library protesters

Residents fighting the closure of six libraries in the London borough of Brent represented the outrage felt by much of the nation’s readers and researchers about cutbacks by staging a round-the-clock protest outside Kensal Rise Library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain 111 years ago. The campaigners were the first in the country to seek a judicial review into library closures.

Pub Quiz TONIGHT

@The Preston Pub (opposite Preston Library)
7.30pm (for 8pm start)

Professional quizmaster, raffle and prizes!

Come along and show your support for a hard fought campaign. It’s not over yet!

£5/3

NYT: The Demise of the Public Library

Author Kamila Shamsie writes in today’s New York Times...

The part of North London I live in borders the council of Brent, now the site of an intense legal battle to save local libraries that has become the vanguard for similar efforts around the country. On Dec. 29, police officers held back protestors outside Preston Library while local government officials removed all its books, impervious to the nearby poster of Santa, a speech bubble over his head saying “Don’t rely on me; give kids their books back.” Since April 2011, 423 libraries have either closed down or been slated for closure — that’s almost 10 percent of all libraries in Britain.

Read the rest here.

Brent is a Rotten Borough 2011

The team who closed your library won not one but two awards in December. While the cash-strapped council wasted another £15,000 in celebrating Sue McKenzie (below, centre) and her team’s noble achievement in destroying Preston, Private Eye came up with a rather more accurate award:

ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS 2011

WHO’S been bullying the electors; who’s been pocketing the brown envelopes; and who doesn’t know the difference between “astronomy” and “astrology”? Find out if your local authority is guilty of crimes against the council taxpayer and picked up a gong in the Rotten Borough Awards 2011…

……..More

LIBRARY AWARD

Congratulations to Brent council’s “team of the year”. Yes, it’s the Library Transformation Team, whose successful 2011 has seen the closure of six of the London borough’s 12 libraries in the face of community outrage.

Sue McKenzie and her Library Transformation Team with council's ludicrous Team of the year

Shamed Council take down Wall of Shame

Council Leader Ann John criticised on the Wall of ShameYesterday, contractors pulled down the Brent ‘Wall of Shame’ hiding Preston Library. This follows a sneaky move to empty it of books and equipment last week, before any injunction to stop it could be issued.

The Wall, with its popular support from local artists and schoolchildren, has become a major embarrassment to the Council over the last few weeks and they have finally decided that perhaps it was not such a good idea after all

It would be interesting to learn exactly how much this futile exercise of paying contractors to erect the Wall – and then take it down again – has actually cost Council Tax payers.

Unfortunately for Brent Council, the Wall is unlikely to be forgotten – we have photos galore.

Preston Library Emptied

Police side with council as it empties the library.Brent takes advantage of the holiday shutdown to pre-empt any intervention from the Supreme Court, where an appeal was lodged two weeks ago.

Campaigners expect the council to rush through the sale of the library in the coming months, depriving the area of its last local service.

A Preston Christmas Carol (or two)

For those who missed last week’s carols – you can now sing the special ones around your tree at home. We have shown incredible spirit this year and we intend to continue into the new year.

Community singing carols at the Wall of Shame

Carols written specially for Preston Library Campaign

You can also download and print them here: A Preston Christmas Carol

Oh Library! Oh how I love you so!

Carol to the tune of Oh Tennenbaum - Oh Library!
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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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