Leader of Brent Council insists he was unaware of Kensal Rise Library events despite claims councillors knew

Cllr Muhammmed Butt is sticking to claim he had no idea branch was going to be cleared of books

The leader of Brent Council is insisting he did not know Kensal Rise Library was going to be stripped of its contents on Wednesday despite his party colleague saying “councillors knew.”

Speaking to the Times, Cllr James Powney (Labour), lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said he was told about three or four weeks ago that officers would move in this week to remove the Victorian reading room’s books.

He said: “Yes I knew in advance, as indeed everyone. I knew it was happening three of four weeks ago.

“Everybody in the whole world knew this would be happening at some point.

“Buildings have been emptied between October and now. The officers are implementing the policy which was agreed by the executive and the executive agreed it a long time ago.”

When the Times asked Mr Powney whether other councillors knew about the removal, he said yes.

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But despite being the former leader of the council and now leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt stands by his original claims that he had no idea the library was going to be stripped this week.

He said: “Not all councillors get told everything. The information has to be contained to certain individuals.

“This would not have been made public knowledge. All of the Labour councillors would not have been informed of this.

“We all knew as executive members that sooner or later the books would have to come out. No details were given to us.”

Cllr Butt has agreed to meet with library campaigners but he says the reverter has been triggered and the building now belongs to its original owners, All Souls College in Oxford.

The Brent and Kilburn Times asked Brent Council’s press office for the date it was decided to empty the library but it refused to disclose this information.

It said: “Redistributing Brent’s book stock to our six libraries open seven days a week was always part of the policy agreed in April 2011. Kensal Rise is the last building to be emptied as a result of various legal complexities.

“The exact date of removal was planned in conjunction with contractors and the police.”