Kensal Rise Library's star-studded fundraiser to pay roof repairs

Paterson Joseph, Ron Cook and Tamsin Grieg are appearing in Kensal Rise Library's fundraiser

Paterson Joseph, Ron Cook and Tamsin Grieg are appearing in Kensal Rise Library's fundraiser - Credit: FKRL

A community library is hosting its first star-studded fundraiser since the pandemic to help pay roof repairs.

Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) have brought in their celebrity supporters to read their pieces of poetry and prose at St Martin's Church, in Mortimer Road, on November 28 at 7pm.

Among those appearing is Ron Cook, Tamsin Greig and Tim Lott with music from distinguished soprano, Janis Kelly.

Actor Tamsin Grieg marks the re-launch of Kensal Rise Library .

Actor Tamsin Grieg marked the re-launch of Kensal Rise Library in 2019 . - Credit: David Nathan

The library, in Bathurst Gardens, has to pay £12,000 for roof repairs - only four years since the developer Uplift’s works were approved by a private Building Control company, London Building Control (LBC). 

According to Companies House, Uplift dissolved last year. The developer sold its freeholds to the five residents who bought the flats above the library. 

Invoices to FKRL come from Library Apartments Freehold Ltd (LAF) but members say they are not consulted about repairs yet billed for which contractor they choose.

FKRL member and library manager Stephanie Schonfield said there was damp in three places in the library, following the Uplift re-development.

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Damp contractors she warned the freeholders not to use were chosen "who did a predictably bad job" so another she recommended was finally used.

She added: "The freeholders want the library to pay for the first contractor - even though I repeatedly emailed them and spoke to them at length - warning them not to go with the damp proofer they chose. Their own surveyor said he did a bad job.

"Why is the community being left to deal with this, is the question frequently asked."

She also said a fire door in the building did not close properly and the library has had to repair it to make it safe.

Friends of Kensal Rise Library are hosting a celebrity fundraiser to help pay a £12,000 repair bill

Friends of Kensal Rise Library are hosting a celebrity fundraiser to help pay a £12,000 repair bill - Credit: FKRL

Margaret Bailey, chair of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library, said: "Yet again we pay the price for unregulated, privatised services whose main interest is profit and not serving the communities they steal from.

"Like many other people and communities we pay the price for shoddy building work with no regulatory body to oversee or defend us.

"£12k is the price for us this time to pay for our roof repairs. We would much rather put this money into meeting the needs of our community.

"Once again the people embedded in our community have come to our aid and we thank them all, Tamsin Greig, Paterson Joseph, Ron Cook, Craig Kelly, Rick Leaf, Janis Kelly and many others.”

The library, originally opened by American writer Mark Twain in 1900, was closed along with five others by Brent Council in 2011 to save £1million.

While the land was owned by the All Soul's College in Oxford, the building had been paid for by public subscription and a donation from Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist.

FKRL had the building listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) in 2012, before it was sold by All Souls to developer Andrew Gillick, who attempted to sell the building at auction but failed to find a buyer.

In 2014 it was finally sold to to Uplift Properties, which said it would maintain a library within its redevelopment.

The protected space on the ground floor of the new development was reopened in September 2019 to great fanfare.

Kensal Rise Library friends have had to deal with damp since the building was constructed.

Kensal Rise Library friends have had to deal with damp since the building was constructed. - Credit: Stephanie Schonfield

But confusion reigns.

Margaret said: "It has been hard to get information from All Soul's College.

"They said nothing would change when residents bought the freehold.

"So who do All Souls have their head lease with now that developers don’t exist anymore?

"Has the head lease been transferred? To whom?"

Stephanie said: "Brent Council didn’t grant the building control approval. Since Thatcher 1984 Act, developers can simply get private companies to pass their works.

"The freeholders have declined to pursue Uplift. The library as mere leaseholder is stuck at the bottom, having to pay for the works but having no decision-making power in whether or not to pursue the developer, or choice of contractors to make good. It's not a nice situation."

London Building Control were the appointed Building Control approval company for the works on the residential flats and community space.

In an email to FKRL seen by this paper they said "as far as could be ascertained the works complied with the minimum requirements of the Building Regulations 2010, and we issued a final certificate on the 17th November 2017".

All Souls College said they are "no longer financially responsible" for the building.

LAF has been contacted.

For tickets to the fundraiser visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tamsin-greig-ron-cook-paterson-joseph-with-janis-kelly-co-tickets-205605530677?aff=ebdssbeac

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