The Royal Society of Literature slams Brent Council over dawn raid on Kensal Rise Library

Town hall accused of carrying out an act of philistinism bordering on vandalism

A renowned organisation set-up more than 100 years ago to celebrate the joys of literature, has lambasted Brent Council’s clandestine dawn raid on Kensal Rise Library.

The Royal Society of Literature, which is made up of a variety of literary figures, has said it was ‘appalled’ to hear about the stripping of the ancient building in Bathurst Gardens and the removal of a commemorative plaque celebrating American author Mark Twain.

A statement from the society read: “The Council of the Royal Society of Literature, which has consistently opposed the closure of public libraries, is appalled to hear of the action taken by Brent Council in the former Kensal Rise Library in the early hours of the morning.

“This appears to be an act of philistinism bordering on vandalism, and we wonder what the justification for it can be.”

The society, which was formed in 1820, has had a host of famous members in the past including Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy and more recently JK Rowling.

The building, which is owned by All Souls College in Oxford, was permanently closed last year alongside five other reading rooms in the borough.

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Brent Council said the action was taken on the advice of police. The 2am raid caused outrage in the local community after council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt had promised campaigners, who still hope to run a community library in the facility that the contents would remain for the time being.

He said: “As a gesture of my commitment to Kensal Rise library I have instructed officers to return the plaques taken from the library as soon as is practically possible.”

“I was not leader when the decisions that led to the removal of materials from Kensal Rise library were taken, but that action happened on my watch and I take responsibility for it.

“As a gesture of my commitment to Kensal Rise library I have instructed officers to return the plaques taken from the library as soon as is practically possible.”

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