Half of Brent’s libraries to close as residents protest

Library campaigners branded the closures a disgrace

Half of Brent’s libraries will close for good after the Labour-run council voted through deep cuts despite vehement opposition from residents.

Temperatures rose and passions flared as Brent Council rubber stamped the closures of reading rooms in Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston, Tokyngton and Barham Park.

A massive 82 per cent of residents said they were against the closures during the three month consultation, and several popular campaigns were mounted to save the threatened reading rooms.

Despite this opposition, all ten members of the executive nodded through the cuts as cries of ‘traitors’ and ‘shame on you’ were shouted from the packed public gallery.

Mum Samantha Warrington, whose two young children received a standing ovation after they gave an impassioned plea to councillors to keep their cherished libraries open, branded the decision a disgrace.

Ms Warrington, of the Save Preston Library campaign, said: “I am very, very disappointed that the councillors aren’t listening to these really strong feelings. They are ignoring the deprivation that is going to ensue.

Most Read

“They are using old data and old statistics to justify a plan they made up their minds about long ago.

“I work full time and don’t have time to take my children to another library further away. They read a lot at the moment, but these closures will damage their prospects and the prospects of all the children in the area.”

She went on: “We believe that the consultation is flawed. The equalities impact assessment is a charade and we are confident it is not going to stand up to scrutiny.”

Cllr James Powney, lead member for environment and cultural services, said: “The proposals put forward in Brent’s libraries programme have been hard to bear for many people who understandably have concerns about closing libraries even though by doing so, our remaining more widely used libraries will be radically improved in the process.

“I am satisfied that we have been as open and transparent about our plans as possible and that we have listened and engaged with as many residents and other interested groups as possible before reaching our decision.”