Red-faced Brent council bosses have left local residents scratching their heads by advertising a World Book Day event at Ealing Library on Thursday 1 March – when the library is due to be closed for re-decoration.
Brent Magazine Page 5: Ealing Road Library closed
Page five of the taxpayer-funded Brent Magazine, distributed to 100,000 households in the borough, warns residents that Ealing Road Library will be closed for four weeks from Monday 27 February until Sunday 25 March.
Brent magazine page 6: Library open for under-fives
But overleaf on page six Brent Council advertises a free under-five session “where children can enjoy spring-time stories and crafty activities including flower making and decorating” at Ealing Road Library from 11.15 am until 12 noon on Thursday 1 March.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Library campaigner Paul Lorber said:
I assume the under-fives are not expected to play among the paint-pots and brushes as the redecoration goes on around them.
This is an example, once again, of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing at Brent Council. I suggest the under-fives activity session is relocated to the empty Barham Park or Preston libraries where there is plenty of space.
Brent Council has so far refused to make facilities available at Barham Park or Preston libraries to serve local library users during the Ealing Road closure.
Library users across the north and west of Brent will be left in the lurch when Ealing Road library shuts for a month between Monday 27 February and Sunday 25 March.
Brent library bosses have admitted that no alternative arrangements will be put in place to serve the thousands of residents who will lose their library service despite the fact that Ealing Road is the second busiest library in Brent.
The library receives over a quarter of a million visits each year (261,000 in 2009-10). It has been placed under further pressure following Labour’s decision to close Barham Park, Preston, Tokyngton and three other libraries last October. Ealing Road library serves a large Asian community who will now have nowhere to go as all three nearby libraries were closed by Labour councillors in October 2011.
Alperton councillors Daniel Brown and James Allie are dismayed at Brent Council's failiure to put alternative arrangements in place during the closure of Ealing Library
Brent Council claims the closure is necessary to redecorate the library and install a new toilet.
Sudbury councillor and Liberal Democrat Group Leader Paul Lorber said:
The people of Wembley are being treated shabbily by the council. Re-opening a closed library while Ealing Road library is redecorated would make a big difference to library users in the north and west of the borough, who otherwise will have to make long and inconvenient journeys to one of just five remaining libraries – all of them miles away and difficult for elderly, disabled and very young children to get to.
There will be some alternative provision while Willesden Green library is closed for redevelopment. The same rules should apply in Wembley too.
After Liberal Democrat councillors raised concerns Brent Council confirmed that loan periods for Ealing Road library book borrowers will be extended during the closure.
Information obtained by the Liberal Democrats shows that popular Ealing Road library in Brent is due to shut for four weeks from Monday 27 February for refurbishment. It is due to reopen on Monday 26 March.
Alperton councillors Daniel Brown and James Allie are pressing for alternative arrangements to be made for Ealing Road library users while it is closed
Ealing Road Library is the alternative library for former users of the closed Barham Park library and many former users of Preston library. They will now need to travel even further to borrow books or use library facilities.
Alperton councillor and Liberal Democrat deputy group leader Daniel Brown said:
Library users are getting a raw deal. It would have been sensible to carry out the refurbishment while Barham Park and Preston libraries were open. The council should re-open the empty Barham Park and Preston libraries to provide a service while Ealing Road Library is closed.
Fortunately the council still owns and maintains both buildings so it can re-open them for the displaced Ealing Road library users relatively easily. I am sure the council can count on help and support from the community if it does so.
Ealing library has 15 study spaces which will not be available for GCSE students during March. The Liberal Democrats have asked the council not to levy fines on books due back during the library closure period.
The temporary closure of Ealing Library follows concerns about the level of library service that will be provided by the council during the 18-20 month closure of Willesden Green Library Centre while the site is redeveloped.