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Brent library supporters vow to carry on campaign

PUBLISHED: 17:34 03 February 2012 | UPDATED: 11:07 04 February 2012

Kensal Rise Library supporters

Kensal Rise Library supporters

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Events will take place across the borough to mark National Libraries Day despite legal challenge loss

Campaigners leading the fight to save Brent’s closed libraries are not giving up hope and have vowed to carry on.

The news library supporters had been dreading was announced today – that the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, will not hear their case.

The announcement came as the borough prepares to celebration National Libraries Day which takes place tomorrow.

Margaret Bailey, who helped to take the fight to the High Court and the Appeal Court, said: “Obviously the decision is disappointing, and worrying that judges are able to make decisions that allow for the disregard of laws that are meant to protect people simply so that councils can make cuts. What next? Ignore the Equalities Act, the Human Rights Act because they may be too expensive to enforce?”

Samantha Warrington, Preston Library supporter, believes there should be a public inquiry. She said: “We have always been pursuing other routes. Now the legal avenue has closed we hope there will be a public inquiry and that Brent will consider alternatives in a way Camden has done it so positively.”

Brent Council announced plans to close six out of Brent’s 12 libraries to save £1 million in 2010.

Despite a consultation into the proposals showing that 82 per cent of respondents were against the closures, the council announced in April last year that Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton libraries would shut. Residents united by their anger formed Brent SOS Libraries to stop the closures and took their fight to the High Court and Appeal Court but lost.

The council began stripping bare the libraries before Christmas but undeterred the campaigners formed pop-up libraries outside the closed reading rooms including Victorian built Kensal Rise Library, in Bathurst Gardens which was opened 111 years ago by American author Mark Twain.

But Councillor Ann John OBE, leader of the Labour-run council, said she now wanted to put the past behind her. She said: “We are extremely pleased that today the Supreme Court has refused to allow any further appeal to be heard in relation to Brent’s library transformation decision.

“This final decision of the Supreme Court fully vindicates Brent Council’s actions and upholds the earlier decisions of both the Court of Appeal and the High Court that the council acted lawfully.

“We can now put the past behind us and focus our attentions fully on improving and developing a better library service for the people of Brent.”

A host of events, organised by dedicated members of the community, will take place across the borough tomorrow to mark National Libraries Day.

Save Preston Library group are presenting a children’s activities day at Preston Park Primary School, in College Road, Wembley, between 10am and 4pm.

Guests will include Leon Rosselson, author of Rosa’s Singing Grandfather, Dyan Sheldon, author of Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, and Kaye Umansky, creator of Pongwiffy – A Witch of Dirty Habits.

There will also be a pop-up library and readings from The Gruffalo, written by Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, and Warhorse, by Michael Morpurgo.

Geraldine Cooke, Preston Library supporter, said: “Across the nation, people are being asked to celebrate their local libraries.

“Unfortunately, Brent Council has closed ours so the community is making sure we don’t miss out.”

Preston Library supporters are also putting on a night called What the Dickens! – a celebration of 200 years of Charles Dickens.

It will take place at The Windermere pub, in Windermere Avenue, next to South Kenton Underground Station from 7.30pm.

Members of the audience are invited to wear Victorian dress.

Paul Bailey, shortlisted for the Booker Prize twice, will present a talk on Dickens’ minor characters and the Kenton Light Operatic Society will perform songs from Oliver!

Meanwhile in the south of the borough there will be a children’s event from 10am to 2pm at the Kensal Rise pop-up library in Bathurst Gardens, Kensal Rise, with balloons, singing and poster making.

And if that is not enough, Friends of Barham Library are inviting families to meet local author Elly Brewer, who is the lead scriptwriter for BBC hit children’s programme, Tracy Beaker Returns, at Barham Lounge, 660 Harrow Road, Wembley, from 10am to 3pm. There will also be a pop-up library, readings, presentations and displays.

All of the events are free and all have been organised by dedicated volunteers in the community. For more information visit http://www.brentsoslibraries.org.uk/sosevents/

n Tweet us your photos of National Libraries Day in Brent by following @bktimes

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