Alperton Lib Dem councillor Daniel Brown has sounded the alarm bell about an apparent drop in the number of local children taking part in Brent libraries’ summer reading project.
The drop in participation follows the closure of half of Brent’s libraries by Labour councillors last October. This is the first summer at which children have been unable to take part in activities at the now closed Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyington libraries.
When the Liberal Democrats led the council 1,633 youngsters took part in the Big Summer Read at the six now-closed libraries. Under Labour this number dropped to 1,114 last year and zero this year.
Overall, 5,032 children took part in the Big Summer Read two years ago. So far this year just 3,128 have participated, a drop of over one-third. The numbers are expected to increase slightly by the end of the summer holidays.
Commenting on the disappointing drop, Councillor Daniel Brown said:
When Labour councillors made their decision to slash Brent’s libraries, we warned that local children would be hit hardest. Children aren’t able to jump on the bus and travel miles to a distant library. They were able to rely on local familiar community libraries until Labour councillors closed them.
Sudbury councillor Paul Lorber, who is a volunteer with the Friends of Barham Library, said:
Every week we see dozens of children at our volunteer library who have missed out since Labour closed Barham Park library. The campaign to give Brent residents their libraries back will continue.