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Libraries in Brent could be privatised as part of £54m cuts

PUBLISHED: 12:46 15 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:46 15 January 2015

Harlesden Library

Harlesden Library

GeminiXperience Photography

Libraries in Brent could be privatised as part of council plans to save £54miillion – three years after they closed six branches in the borough.

Kilburn LibraryKilburn Library

Under proposals by the town hall, Ealing Road, Harlesden, Kilburn, Kingsbury, Wembley and Willesden Green Library Centre will be handed over to an outside organisation.

The council is hoping a charity will agree to manage the libraries as their status makes them eligible for an 80 per cent rebate on business rate, this would save the town hall £160,000.

However other tenders from private operators would be considered.

The news has come as a surprise to a library campaigner who fought to save her local branch in Kensal Rise.

The site was closed alongside branches in Barham, Cricklewood, Preston, Neasden, and Tokyngton libraries were in 2011 to save the council £1m.

Margaret Bailey, chair of Friends of Kensal Rise Library, a group set up to fight the closure, said: “Libraries, like many other services, should not be subjected to notions of profit or market forces and privatising often results in costing more.

“Savings made on the 80 per cent rebate will be minimal and certainly not enough justification for privatising the service. I wish local authorities would fight these cuts together - and harness the support of their communities to do this.”

Paul Lorber, a former Liberal Democrat councillor and a volunteer for Friends of Barham Library, said: “They were talking about a trust to save on the business rate. Quite frankly the library service has been so decimated that I don’t think that will make a lot of difference.”

However Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council’s lead member for stronger communities, denied the libraries would be privatised.

He said: “This is finding a management structure rather than privatising our libraries. We are looking into transfer as it saves us a huge amount of money with rate changes.”


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