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Brent Council to discuss £1m library sell off despite High Court action

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 July 2011

Residents have vehemently protested about the library closures

Residents have vehemently protested about the library closures

Archant

Town hall propose placing Preston and Tokyngton library on the market

Council chiefs are planning to sell off library sites despite a High Court challenge later this week against them axing branches in the borough.

Brent Council will be discussing proposals to put Preston and Tokyngton Library on the market in a meeting tomorrow (Monday).

The two libraries are among six reading rooms in the borough which controversially face closure.

If they are sold, Brent Council could make more than £1 million from the two sites.

The local authority decided to close half of the borough’s libraries earlier this year despite huge opposition.

But angry campaigners have refused to give up the fight to save their beloved reading rooms and have won the right to have their case heard in the High Court.

A judicial review challenging the council’s decision begins on July 19.

Samantha Warrington, has been campaigning against the closure of Preston library, said: “How can the council make a decision before the case is heard in the High Court?

“It’s a bit like how it finalised its budget before a consultation into library closures had finished.

“They are hell-bent on selling it and pushing through plans. They decided to do it before hearing the views of the people, and now before the High Court.”

A petition with 6,500 signatures was handed into the council calling for Preston Library to be saved earlier this year.

Priya Shah, another Preston Library supporter, added: “We oppose the sale or disposal of the Preston Library site for any redevelopment that does not include a public library for the use of local citizens.

“We stand by this. The disposal of the site should be in the interests of the community, not simply a money-making exercise for the council.

“We believe the council can and should impose conditions for the future of the site so that it is available for community use in a meaningful and sustainable way.”

But Councillor Ann John OBE (Labour), leader of the council, said: “The case in the High Court is a completely separate issue. That is about process and how we made the decision.

“This is about transforming the library service, not just closing them.

“We are not deciding what to do with each library building. We will run a better library service from six buildings rather than 12.”

The report will be heard during the Executive meeting at Brent Town Hall on Monday at 7pm.

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