All Souls College regrets Brent Council’s decision to hand back Kensal Rise and Cricklewood libraries

Town hall bosses handed back buildings used for closed branches to donors Oxford University

The Oxford University college that donated two buildings to Brent to be run as libraries have said they ‘regret’ the local council’s decision to hand the buildings back to them.

A spokesman for All Souls College has told the Times they always intended the buildings, which housed Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries, to remain as libraries.

The buildings in Olive Road, Cricklewood, and Bathurst Gardens, Kensal Rise, were given to Brent by the Oxford University college in 1854 but were permanantly closed alongside four other reading rooms last year.

However, yesterday, the local authority announced they had handed the buildings back to the college which crusaders say will hamper their attempts to run a community library, a move they claim the college supported.

Speaking to the Times a spokesman for All Souls said: “We regret that these buildings have been handed back to us as we have now acquired two buildings that we did not want.”

“It was our intention for Brent to keep these buildings as libraries.

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“However, as we are a charity our main focus now has to be on what will benefit All Souls College and we will be undertaking discussions in the future to determine the best route to take for the future.”

The spokesman also confirmed that should library campaigners want to occupy the buildings they would have to either pay commercial rents or lease the building, subsequently taking on repair and maintenance rates.

Furious campaigners angered at the local authority’s decision claim that All Souls always gave their full support and hit out at the local authority for refusing to listen.

Margaret Bailey, from the Friends of Kensal Rise Campaign labeled the council ‘over and beyond vindictive’.

She said: “This seems like a council that if you object to any of their policies they will destroy you.

“All Souls have always said to us they supported the idea of a community run library and the council have had every opportunity to work with us but have ignored us on every occasion.

“They strung us along for months during the court case by saying they would discuss plans after the conclusion and then just threw it out.”

However, James Powney, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said the building has belonged to All Souls College since the court case ended in February.

He said: “In their correspondence with us they have always said that the building would automatically revert back to them on that date and requested that we give it back.

“The building now belongs to All Souls College and it is not up to us to determine whether another group can use it.”