Comedians stand up for Brent libraries at sell-out gig

Stars claim library closures isn’t funny

A stand-up comedy night raised more than a lot of laughs last night at a benefit gig to help save six libraries in Brent.

Despite a High Court judge ruling in favour of Brent Council closing half of the borough’s cherished libraries, hundreds of supporters turned up to the night which saw Phil Jupitus take to stage with special guest Alexei Sayle, Radio 4’s Robin Ince, ukulele-playing comedienne Helen Arney and legendary musician Robyn Hitchcock.

More than 300 people attended the event held at Queens Park Community School in Aylestone Avenue, Brondesbury.

Speaking exclusively to the Times at the aptly named Stand Up for Libraries gig, Phil Jupitus said: “It is being said that people don’t use libraries anymore. I don’t go to cancer units a lot but that’s not to say that one day I might need one.

“People should be able to educate themselves. Libraries should exist. It is a basic necessity that should be there.

“The action taken by local people in this area shows how serious it is. Libraries are a big thing to cut but it’s also an obvious one. The council has shown a lack of imagination.”

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Alexei Sayle said libraries were important to him growing up. He said: “It is a vital resource. I commend those who are fighting to save them. Knowledge is power.”

While Robin Ince, who read from a selection of his favourite worst books, said: “I spent a lot of my childhood in libraries and so has my son and he is only three-and-half.

“We have people in charge who are unable to empathise. They can’t understand why people want a library because they don’t need one. They can’t understand why, in a modern age, someone would want to go to a building to read books.

“Libraries are the protection of the most important thing civilisation has access to – knowledge. Closing them is a step back. Closing them is not the solution.”

Campaigners are now entering the sixth day of camping outside Kensal Rise Library, in Bathurst Gardens, to stop the council removing its books and boarding it up.

The council has already boarded up a number of other libraries in the borough including Preston Road, in Carlton Avenue East.

Messages of support have been written on the wooden boards and yesterday campaigners successfully prevented its books being removed.

But this morning the council moved in on Cricklewood Library, in Olive Road, to empty the building.

The libraries which have been closed are Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton.