Library campaigners win battle to return axed Barham Park library home

Friends of Barham Library celebrate with champagne as they return to their former building in Harrow

Friends of Barham Library celebrate with champagne as they return to their former building in Harrow Road with 15 year lease on the Lounge Room - Credit: Archant

Following a long battle campaigners in Barham Park were jubilant as they finally won the tender to bring their much loved library home.

Barham Library was closed in 2011

Barham Library was closed in 2011 - Credit: Archant

Cracking open champagne, Friends of Barham Park Library were awarded a 15 year lease to run their services back in Harrow Road, in the lounge room of their old building.

Yesterday, in a tense meeting at Brent Civic Centre in Engineers Way, Wembley, Friends of Barham Library went head to head with Pivot Point, a private community development group for Lounge room contract.

With two cabinet members, Cllr James Denselow and Cllr Eleanor Southwood voting for FoBL and two councillors voting for Pivot Point, Cllr Margaret McLennan and Cllr Krupesh Hirani, it was up to Cllr Michael Pavey, chair of the Barham Trust Committee to decide the casting vote.

Cllr Pavey said the “shambolic process” had taken far too long adding: “I acknowledge the strength of all the applications, particularly with Pivot Point.” He added his choice came down to the strength of the interviews: “Friends of Barham Library continue to show political neutrality and work for all sections of the community.”

Paul Lorber, of FOBL said: “We are delighted by the decision. We’ve come a long way and are grateful to all the public support we’ve had through the past four years.

We are determined to repay their support by providing a fantastic local service to people in our community.”

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Francis Henry, from Daniels Estate Agent, which has a branch on Wembley High Road, said: “Hooray, I’d be delighted to try to accommodate the sharing of any facilities with the under bidder Pivot!”

Val Trott, a supporter from Crawford Avenue, Wembley, said: “I’m pleased they have got it and it’s well overdue. They should have had it years before without all this going on.”

Gaynor Lord added: “It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s what the people of Brent deserve. Now we’ll be able to run a really good facility in the Lounge and hopefully put in a bid for the card room next.”

Alton Bell from Pivot Point said: “It’s disappointing we missed out on the casting vote. We work with FOBL and it would be nice to be the lead tenant.”

The library campaigners now have a permanent space to store their 10,000 books and look forward to opening up the premises to community groups and providing training including extra English as a Second Language classes and volunteering opportunities.

Barham Library, which opened in 1952, was controversially closed by Brent Council in 2011 alongside Kensal Rise, Cricklewood, Tokyngton, Preston and Neasden to save £1million a year.

In 2013 FOBL, which runs two volunteer libraries in High Road, Wembley and Sudbury Town Underground Station, in Station Approach, Sudbury, raised more than £35.000 as part of a bid to take over the running of the axed branch, fundraising for more than two-and-a- half years.

In a devastating blow, the Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art (ACAVA) were awarded the right to convert the site into art studios.

The building and the surrounding Barham Park was left to the council by Titus Barham following his death in 1936.