Brent Council chief apologises over library distance claims

Town hall publicity wrongly said all residents will live within 1.5 miles from a branch

Brent Council has come under fire after claims that residents would have easy access to the borough’s libraries were branded misleading.

The council claims in the most recent edition of its own magazine that no resident would be more than 1.5 miles away from “one of our libraries”.

However, this figure includes resource centres outside Brent and residents who put the claim to the test say that they walked for more than two miles between the Preston and their next nearest branch at Kingsbury.

This week a council spokeswoman dismissed the campaigners’ claims as ‘nonsense’, but Toni McConville, the council’s director of customer and community engagement has apologised for the ‘error’.

In their efforts to prove the real travel distances, former Preston Road Library users marched 2.1 miles to their new nearest centre, Kingsbury Library on Saturday.

The march was organised to show that many residents live further than 1.5 miles away and Samantha Warrington, a campaigner at the library in Carlton Avenue East said it proved their point. She said: “It took 80 minutes which is far too long for many children and elderly residents.”

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Walkers began the trek at South Kenton station, before moving up Windermere Avenue, Carlton Avenue East and Preston Road, eventually arriving at the library in Kingsbury High Road.

Last month campaigners fighting against the closure of Preston, Kensal Rise, Tokyngton, Barham Park, Cricklewood and Neasden libraries lost a judicial review which could have overturned the decision but an appeal has been lodged which is expected to be heard this week.

Campaigners were joined by the leader of the Brent Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Paul Lorber, and Green Party candidate for Brent and Harrow, Dr Shahrar Ali.

Dr Ali said: “We were united in our abhorrence of these closures and defiant in our common goal to have them reinstated.”

The Brent Council spokeswoman said it was “nonsense” that the council has been misleading anyone.

She said: “It is true that everyone living in the borough is no more than a mile and a half from a library, either in Brent or a neighbouring borough, and many residents choose to use a library in another borough. This was clearly explained in the proposals.’’