Six libraries could be axed in Brent Council culling

Brent Council plan to axe six libraries to save �1million

IT COULD be the end of a chapter for half the libraries in the borough after plans to axe them have been revealed by Brent Council.

Six libraries have been earmarked for closure as part of the sweeping cuts that are being unleashed across the borough to save �100 million in the next four years.

The proposals will see Neasden, Barham Park, Tokyngton, Kensal Rise, Preston and Cricklewood libraries shut for good and save the council an estimated �1m.

The plans to axe the libraries have been announced just three years after the former Lib Dem/Tory coalition-led council threw out proposals to close six sites as part of a ‘modernisation’ plan.

Award-winning novelist, Zadie Smith, who grew up and still lives in the borough, has attributed her literary skills to regular visits to the borough’s libraries.

Ms Smith told the Times the proposed closures will affect the most vulnerable residents.

Most Read

She said: “Brent is a uniquely diverse borough populated by people eager to educate themselves by any means necessary. I know because I was one of them.

“In that battle for self-education – the battle to improve your English, to widen your horizons, to supplement what you learn in school – libraries are on the frontline.

“To cut this service is to radically reduce educational opportunities for precisely the people who need them most.

“In this recession, the people and services that suffer the worse of the cuts are those that are most vulnerable.”

According to a report by the council’s Director of Environment and Neighbourhood, which probed all 12 libraries in the borough, the closures would allow the council to transform the surviving locations into community hubs or ‘super-libraries’ as they are more commonly known.

Eric Pollock, chairman of the Friends of Cricklewood Library, successfully fought off plans to close the site in 1999 and controversial proposals to change the library into a children’s centre last year were also binned after residents launched a campaign.

He said the closures could result in a decline in visitors to the remaining libraries rather than a surge.

He said: “This is very bad news for older residents and younger people with families.

“What Brent are really trying to do, and this is happening in other boroughs everywhere, is trying to concentrate on super libraries. But will people really use those?

“I think this will see a decrease in visitors as people turn elsewhere.”

A series of public consultations asking for residents’ views will take place if the proposals are given the green light at an executive meeting next Monday.

A council spokeswoman said the proposals allowed them to concentrate on delivering excellent modern, multi-functional, library services in the remaining locations that more closely meets the needs of residents and provides value for money during the current difficult financial circumstances of a recession.