Councillors Paul Lorber joined other library campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice during the original judicial review
Brent Liberal Democrat Group Leader Paul Lorber has pledged that Brent Liberal Democrats will do all that is possible to reverse Labour’s decision to close half of Brent’s libraries.
Reacting to today’s Court of Appeal judgement, which failed to overturn the council’s decision, Councillor Lorber said:
We will continue the campaign to save Brent’s libraries. If elected as the council’s administration in the 2014 council elections the Liberal Democrats will do all we can to undo Labour’s disastrous and destructive library policy – including by reopening libraries.
In the meantime we must continue to put pressure on the Labour councillors who voted for the closures. No other area has suffered the loss of such a large proportion of its libraries.
There is also an obligation on Conservative Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. He should take seriously his legal duty to superintend the library service and order an Inquiry.
Young users, who made up a high proportion of the former library users, have been particularly badly affected by the closures. The Labour-run council has so far failed to make good on a commitment to Brent Youth Council that new study spaces for students would be created to replace those lost in the closed libraries.
Library provision in Brent will reduce further next year when Willesden Library is expected to close in September and remain closed until mid-2014.
The public will lose faith in Brent Council’s CCTV traffic enforcement if camera enforcement cars continue to park on double yellow lines whilst the Council fines other vehicles doing the same, according to Brent Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Daniel Brown.
Although the practice is legal, Councillor Brown believes it could be counter-productive.
Residents understandably think the Labour Council is being hypocritical when it allows its own enforcement cars to park in locations where anyone else would instantly attract a fine.
The Labour-run council is taking every opportunity to make money out of drivers. It hiked parking permits by up to 300 per cent, decided to charge drivers for going to the shops in Preston Road and Bridge Road, and is going to great lengths to generate parking fine income. Before the election the Labour party promised a fair deal for motorists, and it must now come up with the goods.
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the council to take a fairer approach by prioritising the free flow of traffic, good access to local shops and community facilities, and proportionate enforcement instead of maximum income generation.
Quintain’s recent announcement that GAP and Nike will move into Wembley’s London Designer Outlet retail development shows that the return of Marks and Spencer to Wembley is closer than ever.
Marks and Spencer closed its store in Wembley in summer 2005. Many local residents feel that the closure of the store was a sign of Wembley’s decline as a place to shop and live. Wembley Liberal Democrat campaigner Afifa Pervez campaigned for the return of Marks & Spencer to Wembley during her successful 2009 by-election campaign.
Two years on the success of the Wembley regeneration project – much of which was planned during the time the Liberal Democrats led the council – means that residents can once again look forward to shopping at Marks and Spencer in Wembley.
Liberal Democrat council group leader Paul Lorber was closely involved with the regeneration of Wembley during his time as council leader (2006-2010). He said:
Over the years I’ve seen the area go through many ups and downs. It was a big blow when Marks and Spencer closed in 2005. I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues have long campaigned to get the best deal for local residents from Quintain and the Wembley regeneration project.
All the signs are now that the new retail developments at Wembley will be attractive to Marks and Spencer – which is great news for local people.
Marks and Spencer’s store at 492 High Road Wembley closed in August 2005. In October 2007 Brent Council granted permission for a gym, two shops and 45 flats on the site.
The Liberal Democrats have consistently campaigned to bring Marks and Spencer back to Wembley. This included Sarah Teather MP speaking directly to Sir Stuart Rose, then Chief Executive of Marks and Spencer.
Quintain announced on 23 November that GAP and Nike will move into the London Designer Outlet retail development at Wembley City as anchor tenants. Quintain has also signed up Pizza Express, Prezzo, Frankie & Benny’s, Handmade Burger Co and Jimmy Spices as food tenants. The company is in the process of securing other fashion, sports, homeware and lifestyle brands, tenants.
The Labour councillors who run Brent Council will hear next Monday (12 December) that more council tax has been collected this year than expected.
As a result the Council is able to declare a £1 million surplus on the council tax Collection Fund. (The fund holds council tax income from taxpayers before it is redistributed to Brent Council and the Mayor of London). £226,000 of this money will go to the Mayor of London (on whose behalf Brent Council collects tax) and £774,000 will be available to spend in Brent.
Liberal Democrat finance spokesperson Councillor Javaid Ashraf said:
Brent Council should thank the vast majority of local taxpayers who have paid their council tax despite the difficult economic conditions.
Council tax collection rates increased significantly when the Liberal Democrats led the council and it is good that most local people continue to pay up. The council must continue to work hard to target the minority who try to avoid paying their fair share.
Council tax collection rates in Brent increased during the time when the Liberal Democrats led Brent Council from 93 per cent in 2006 to nearly 96 per cent four years later.
Liberal Democrat council group leader, Paul Lorber said:
This unexpected bonus wasn’t predicted by the council when Labour set the budget. As council officers say in their report to the Executive, this surplus means the council can fund services which otherwise could be cut.
£774,000 is enough to re-open closed libraries and work with the community to keep them open.
Paragraph 8.1 of the report to the Executive states that the surplus “can therefore be used to continue funding services which otherwise would have had to be cut”.
Council tax has not increased in Brent since the Liberal Democrats introduced a council tax freeze in 2010. In 2011 the Coalition Government provided money to Brent Council to enable it to freeze council tax once more. The council also plans to freeze council tax next year (2012) because of extra grant funding from the government.
So far this year the council’s Labour leadership has wasted over £154,000 on legal costs defending its decision to close half of the borough’s libraries and £258,000 on library staff redundancy costs.
Reposted from: Sarah Teather and Brent Liberal Democrats website.
The Liberal Democrats have selected local Wembley campaigner and former Councillor Afifa Pervez as their candidate for the Wembley Central by-election, which takes place on Thursday 22 December.
Afifa Pervez campaigning for Wembley Central
Afifa has three daughters and is a foster parent. She has lived in Wembley for over 33 years, went to school in Brent, and is a governor at Oakington Manor Primary School. Afifa is a experienced local campaigner who has been fighting the Labour Council’s decision to close half the libraries in Brent, hike parking charges by 300% and cut street cleaning – leaving Wembley streets dirty and overflowing with rubbish.
Like previous council by-elections in Brent, Wembley Central is set to be a close race between the Lib Dems and Brent Council’s ruling Labour party. The Conservatives finished third last time and cannot win.
Local campaigner Afifa Pervez said:
I’m delighted to have been selected by the Liberal Democrats to contest Wembley Central. I live locally and I have seen what the Labour Council’s neglect is doing to our area – the closure of our libraries, the rubbish in our streets and the damage to our high street from the hike in parking charges.
As a mother and a foster parent I know the challenges facing local families right now. More than ever Wembley needs an experienced local councillor who will fight on behalf of our local community.
Paul Lorber the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Brent Council said:
It is great news that Afifa will be standing for the Liberal Democrats in Wembley Central. She was an excellent councillor and is a passionate campaigner on local issues.
When the Liberal Democrats ran the council we improved street cleaning and invested in Ealing Road Library. Now libraries are closing and Wembley’s streets are filled with rubbish while Labour councillors waste almost £10,000 on stays in luxury hotels and meals at posh restaurants. The people of Wembley have been let down by their Labour councillors.
This election is a chance for the people of Wembley to send a message to the Labour Council that enough is enough.
Brent Council has now clocked up legal costs of £154,837.04 as a result of its decision to close half of Brent’s libraries. The sum has more than doubled in the three months since September when the council announced it had spent £70,532.60.
Liberal Democrat group Leader and libraries campaigner Paul Lorber said:
This is a shocking. It is a huge waste of public money which could have been avoided if Cllr Ann John and her fellow Labour councillors had been prepared to act reasonably. They could have sat down with the local community and discussed how best to work in partnership. Instead they chose to force through their plan to axe half our libraries and only the intervention of a judge will make them listen.
In October the council admitted that the cost of sacking library staff and paying redundancy costs was a staggering £258,411.89.