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Broken agreement may close library

PUBLISHED: 14:49 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 13:35 24 August 2010

EXCLUSIVE by Alex Wellman and Sarah Brubeck Council chiefs have been accused of trying to close a library by underhand methods after it was revealed plans to change it breaks an agreement. Cricklewood Library in Olive Road, Cricklewood,

EXCLUSIVE

by Alex Wellman and Sarah Brubeck

Council chiefs have been accused of trying to close a library by underhand methods after it was revealed plans to change it breaks an agreement.

Cricklewood Library in Olive Road, Cricklewood, is embroiled in a bitter fight between Brent Council and users over plans to convert part of the building into a children's centre.

The council has already been blasted for not consulting residents on whether or not they want the library to change and is now being accused of wanting to close the building.

The library was given to Brent Council by All Souls College Oxford but if its use ever changes from that, ownership will revert to the college owing to a Conveyance in 1928.

The Times has discovered that lawyers for the college have looked into the plans and deem them to breach the Conveyance.

A letter leaked to the Times from the college said: "Our solicitors also pointed out that in their opinion putting a Children's Centre in the property would cause the property to revert to All Souls College by operation of law under Section 4 of the 1854 Act."

A Times source, who asked not to be identified, said: "This letter makes it crystal clear that if the council goes ahead with this plan then they will lose the library.

"I can only assume that they are trying to close the library and save themselves the money."

At a meeting in the library on Tuesday, plans were shown to users who said they still did not want the new centre which would keep the library on the ground floor while making the back room a children's activity area.

Dr Theresa Dresser, a member of Friends of Cricklewood Library said: "I don't know why they are proceeding because we're facing the possibility of losing the whole building."

Plans were defended by councillors who said the library would not close.

Cllr Sami Hashmi, Mapesbury ward, said: "Times have changed. I'm not saying we will go against it, but we are looking into it. The council can't break the Conveyance, and they are aware of it."

A Brent Council spokeswoman said: "The library is governed by a covenant from All Souls College Oxford which says it must be used as a library. The building will continue to be used as a library.

"In addition to the library the council hopes to offer children's centre facilities.

"The children's centre will provide similar services and activities as those already available in libraries such as advice sessions, children's activities and family learning."

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk


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