In the week that Brent Council tried to remove the books from the closed Kensal Rise library, the cost of refurbishing the nearest alternative library has rocketed. For most of the next two years Brent will have only five libraries. Prior to October 2011 it had twelve.
Answers to questions asked by the Liberal Democrats reveal that the stated cost of works to Kilburn library has increased in the last 18 months from £117,360 to a staggering £650,000.
In November 2010 Brent Council told Liberal Democrat Group Leader Paul Lorber that the cost of repairs and maintenance to Kilburn Library over the next 20 years was £117,360 – less than any other library except Preston (£93,000) or Barham Park (£90,000).
After the Council recently announced a 4-month closure of Kilburn Library for repairs and refurbishment Councillor Lorber asked for an update. This time the embarrassed Labour Council had to admit that the cost would be £650,000 – a fivefold increase.
The Liberal Democrats are demanding to know why the Council did not make this figure public in 2010 when the future of Brent’s libraries was under discussion – especially as Labour Councillors claimed it was shortage of money which made them decide to close six popular local libraries.
Brondesbury Park Councillor Barry Cheese, who represents some of the residents affected by the closure of Kensal Rise library, said:
How can the Council give a figure of £117,000 one day and then decide it needs to spend £650,000 just 18 months later?
The closure of local libraries in Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Barham, Preston, Neasden and Tokyngton could have been avoided if taxpayers money was used more efficiently.
When Labour councillors closed Kensal Rise library they claimed that its many young users could use Kilburn library nearby. Local people are now very angry at being misled as Kilburn library will be closed for 16 weeks including the whole of the school summer holidays. As soon as Kilburn library re-opens in September, Willesden Green library is due to close for demolition and redevelopment. It is not due to open until just before the local elections in Spring 2014. This means that for most of the next two years Brent will have only five libraries. Prior to October 2011 it had twelve.
Lib Dem councillors are demanding that the council steps in to get Kensal Rise library reopened during the Kilburn Library closure. They support the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and their plan to operate a volunteer library from the historic 110 year old building in Bathurst Gardens.