Library closure team honoured at Brent Council awards ceremony
Outcry over decision to reward team for work which resulted in the axing of six branches
Brent Council’s end-of-year achievement awards has caused outcry after the team behind the project which resulted in half of the borough’s libraries closing was named Team of the Year.
In his recent newsletter, Gareth Daniel, chief executive, described the ceremony which took place last week as a “fantastic evening” and sent his warm congratulations to the Libraries Transformation Team which was honoured for its hard work.
Brent’s Libraries Transformation project led to the closures of reading rooms in Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton.
Despite 82 per cent of respondents who took part in the council’s consultation voting against the closures, town hall chiefs went ahead with the plans. Campaigners fighting to save six of the borough’s libraries said the award was “inappropriate”. Margaret Bailey, who is battling to save the Kensal Rise branch said: “It’s laughable. Who has voted for this? I don’t think the award would have gone to anyone who was against cuts to services.
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“We will certainly remember the Libraries Transformation Team as the team of the year but not the for the right reasons. Maybe the award should have gone to the library staff and other council staff who have lost their jobs.”
Linda Green, who has campaigned to save Preston Library, in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley, said: “It seems inappropriate to reward the Libraries Transformation Team. There must be other examples of hard-working staff providing front line services to the public in these difficult times.”
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Campaigners set up an umbrella group called Brent SOS Libraries and took the case to the Royal Courts of Justice in July where they argued the consultation was flawed.
However, the High Court judge ruled in favour of the council and six branches closed immediately.
Undeterred by the outcome, the case was brought to the Court of Appeal and campaigners are awaiting the outcome.
A council spokesman said: “The awards are given to recognise colleagues who have worked hard in difficult circumstances or gone over and above what would normally be expected.”