Campaigners reveal ‘true extent’ of closing Brent’s libraries in report

Document was handed into Brent Council ahead of the local authority’s own progress report

Campaigners have submitted their own report to Brent Council which they say reveals the “true extent” of the damage caused by library closures in the borough.

At a meeting on Monday night (May 21) in Brent Town Hall, Wembley, an update on the closures of libraries in Brent was presented by Cllr James Powney, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods.

But supporters of the six closed libraries believe his report presents misleading information and so handed in their own findings which they believe gives a true picture.

According to a Freedom of Information request carried out by campaigner Philip Bromberg, there have been 167,004 fewer library visits since half of the libraries closed in October compared with the same period the previous year.

About 158,800 fewer books have been issued during the same period and library visits and lending have fallen 20 per cent, according to the data.

But speaking at the meeting, Cllr James Powney, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said: “All services were examined and we thought the best way to spend the library budget was to spend them on six excellent libraries.

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“My expectation by 2014 and 2015 is that we will have more users and book loans than we had when we closed the libraries last year. It was always the case that we would have a dip in numbers over first 18 months.

“My expectation is that numbers will pick up again when the new Wembley library in the Civic Centre opens in June next year.”

But Mr Bromberg, who has been fighting to save Preston Library, in Carlton Avenue East, said: “Cllr Powney has said that things will be better than now. But things are terrible now. It’s not much of an ambition.”

Mother-of-two Samantha Warrington, from Brent SOS libraries which represents the six closed libraries as well as Willesden Green Library which is due to be rebuilt, said: “Young people in Brent are working hard to pass their GCSEs and A-levels.

“The loss of study space and facilities in the libraries closed by this administration will only make their lives harder.”

Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston, Tokyngton, Barham and Kensal Rise libraries were also closed to save the council �816,000 last year. Willesden Green Library and Kilburn Library will also close while they are refurbished.