Barham Library campaigners raise £35k to take over axed branch
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 August 2014
Copyright: Mr. Jan Nevill
Library campaigners have urged Brent Council to accept their £35,000 bid to take over the running of an axed branch in Sudbury.
Friends of Barham Library (FOBL) have offered town hall bosses the five figure sum for the defunct Barham Park Library, in Harrow Road, so they create a new community reading room.
The funds have been raised over two-and-a-half years through charitable contributions, the auctioning of valuable books and sponsorships through runs and other sporting events.
Barham Library, which opened in 1952, was controversially closed in 2011 alongside Kensal Rise, Cricklewood, Tokyngton, Preston and Neasden to save £1million a year.
As part of the takeover plans, the FOBL, which currently operates two volunteer libraries in High Road, Wembley, and Sudbury Town Underground Station, in Station Approach, would supply computers, a second hand bookshop and host arts and crafts, books and youth clubs.
The building and the surrounding Barham Park was left to the council by Titus Barham following his death in 1936.
The philanthropist also supported local causes such as Wembley Hospital, Barham School, and Sudbury Tennis Club.
Francis Henry from Daniels Estate Agency and FOBL volunteer claims that the community have been “crying out” for the library to be reopened.
Paul Lorber, former councillor and ex-leader of Brent Liberal Democrats, said: “We have watched in despairs as Brent Council has kept the Barham Library building empty for almost three years and deprived local people of access.
“We now have the funds and the people to take over the empty building and reopen a community run library and community centre.”
FOBL hope they can strengthen their bid by using site as a community hub, allowing borough residents to host language classes, art and historic objects displays and advice sessions.
Organisers would be expected to contribute to the running costs.
The group have previously accused the council of allowing the building to fall into disrepair through neglect.
Cllr Michael Pavey, deputy leader of the council said: “The Barham Park Charitable Trust [run by the council] has not directly received this proposal from the Friends of Barham Library to take over the former library building.”
He added: “This building, along with others in the park, is currently the subject of a planning appeal and as such it would be inappropriate to comment until we receive a decision from the Planning Inspectorate.”