Brent’s newest councillor Alison Hopkins has thanked Dollis Hill residents for their support and for electing her to Brent Council yesterday.
Humber Road resident Alison Hopkins triumphed by 37 votes in the highly marginal Dollis Hill ward, which has been a Lib Dem / Labour battleground for the past ten years.
This is the first Lib Dem victory against Labour in the capital since the General Election in 2010. The Liberal Democrat majority increased from 27 votes in 2010 to 37 votes yesterday (on a lower turnout).
Victorious new Liberal Democrat councillor Alison Hopkins said:
It is clear that a huge number of Brent residents are still very angry at Labour’s decision to force through the closure of half of our libraries in the face of massive public opposition. They are fed up with the increased rubbish on the streets and the overflowing bins caused by Labour’s decision to target cuts at street cleaning. It’s time for the Labour politicians who run Brent Council to start listening to local people.
Now I have a seat in the council chamber I will use it to continue to argue the case for local libraries anc cleaner streets. I will speak up for the thousands of local residents and children who have lost out because of Brent Council’s refusal to listen.
I want to thank my fellow Dollis Hill residents for the warm welcome I received throughout the campaign, and everyone who voted for and helped me.
Dollis Hill has been hit hard by the Labour Council’s library cuts. When Labour councillors voted to close six of Brent’s twelve libraries last year, two of them (Cricklewood and Neasden) served local residents.
Alison Hopkins has a track record of campaigning for the local area. She has worked hard to challenge Labour's library closures.
The newly elected councillor collected hundreds of signatures protesting against the library closures last year. Neasden Library currently stands empty at a cost to Brent taxpayers of around £70,000 per year, as the council is unable to hand back the lease of the rented building until 2022.
The unpopular Labour council has also come under fire for its cuts to front-line services, such as street-cleaning, wasteful spending, and its refusal to listen to local residents.
Residents in Dollis Hill are going to the polls today to elect a new councillor, following the death of Liberal Democrat councillor Alec Castle. The election campaign has been a two-horse race between campaigning Dollis Hill resident Alison Hopkins and Brent Council’s Labour administration’s candidate.
It’s clear that the Conservative and other candidates can’t win. Polling stations are open until 10pm this evening (Thursday 21 March) at:
- CDO1 and CDO 2: Kingfisher Youth and Community Centre, Crest Road, NW2 7LG – map
- CDO3:Our Lady of Grace RC Junior School, Dollis Hill Lane, NW2 6HS – map
- CDO4: Our Lady of Grace RC Infant School, Dollis Hill Lane, NW2 6EU – map
You don’t need your polling card to vote. If you have a postal vote and have not sent it back, you can take it to any of the polling stations listed above or to the Town Hall.
Alison has lived in Dollis Hill for over 55 years. She has a long record of campaigning for local people. As the Neasden representative of the Brent SOS libraries campaign she has fought the Labour Council’s plans to close half the libraries in Brent, including in Neasden and Cricklewood.
She is campaigning against the Council’s slashing of the street cleaning budget that has seen rubbish pile up in Dollis Hill’s streets and she has taken a stand against the Labour Council’s frittering away of thousands of pounds on luxury hotel away-days and expensive meals, money that could have been used to keep the libraries open and the dumped rubbish off Dollis Hill’s streets.
Published and promoted by R Wharton 19 Roe Lane London NW9 9BH on behalf of A Hopkins (Liberal Democrats) 9 Humber Road London NW2 6EH. Printed (hosted) by Automattic, Inc. 60 29th Street #343 San Francisco, CA 94110-4929 United States of America
Labour councillors on Tuesday night rejected pleas to re-open closed libraries in Cricklewood, Kensal Rise or Neasden in order to provide a service to displaced library users while Willesden Library Centre is shut for redevelopment.
The Executive was considering the issue after it was successfully ‘called-in’ by Liberal Democrat councillors. The council’s overview and scrutiny committee backed the Liberal Democrats’ concerns and asked the Executive to think again.
Liberal Democrat Leader and Sudbury councillor Paul Lorber pointed out that, according to the council’s own figures, re-opening two of the three closed libraries in the south of the borough would cost less than half and as little as a third of the £2 million set aside by the council to deliver an interim service during the closure.
Re-opening closed libraries in addition to delivering a temporary service from Grange Road in Willesden is a more efficient and cost-effective way of delivering this much-needed service than hiring various premises dotted around Willesden.
It is very sad that the Labour Executive members closed their ears to the good arguments put forward by library campaigners and other concerned residents. Brent Council could achieve so much more if Labour councillors were prepared to work with local people instead of against them.
At the meeting the council’s Director of Regeneration and Major Projects said there would be three rounds of public consultation about the project, starting very soon. He was responding to criticism that just 12 residents had been consulted about the original decision in February 2011 to demolish the old and new library buildings and to redevelop the site with a new library centre and over 90 new dwellings.
Residents also expressed concern that the council and developer have been working away on plans in secret for the past 12 months.
The council has budgeted £2,000,890 for the delivery of an interim service while Willesden Library Centre is closed. This includes the cost of renting premises not owned by the council to provide study spaces.
The cost of re-opening two out of three of the closed libraries in the south of the borough is set out below. No additional rent would be payable as the council already occupies the buildings and is paying for their upkeep:
- Kensal Rise and Cricklewood – £705,420
- Cricklewood & Neasden – £870,858
- Kensal Rise and Neasden – £872,558
Councillor Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Brent Council, has urged local people to continue to support their local and the Brent SOS Libraries Campaign.
Library campaigners, including Lib Dem councillors Sami Hashmi (far left), Paul Lorber (middle, behind board), Barry Cheese (third right) and Ann Hunter (far right), gathering support for the Save Our Libraries campaign outside Willesden Green library
Brent Library campaigners, including Cllr Lorber, made their views known to the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee last week by submitting evidence to the Select Committee’s Libraries Closure Inquiry.
Members of Parliament on the committee are looking at the impact on local communities of library closures across the country and are expected to hold public hearings once the evidence has been considered. Labour-run Brent Council is believed to have introduced the most damaging library closure programme anywhere in the UK. The drastic cuts in the borough are expected to feature in the Inquiry.
Councillor Paul Lorber said
Labour councillors in Brent are decimating our library service. Tens of thousands of Brent residents all the way from Kensal Rise to Sudbury have been deprived of a library service. Labour cannot be trusted on Libraries.
As the council can no longer provide the comprehensive and efficient library service required by local people the time has come for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to step in and stand up for local people.
The library service is set to deteriorate further if Brent Council’s Executive tonight (Monday 16 January) rubber-stamps the planned closure of the flagship Willesden Green library for over 18 months.
Willesden Green library received half a million visits in 2009/10 and is the library that users of the now-closed Kensal Green and Cricklewood libraries are advised by the council to use instead.
Despite this the council does not plan to provide effective alternative provision for Willesden Green Library users during the closure period but instead has plans to open a ‘pop-up’ library in Grange Road and scattered internet access across a range of council buildings.
Re-opening the closed libraries in the south of the borough during the closure period would provide additional space for students and displaced library users, according to library campaigners.
Brent Council Leader Ann John’s repeated assurance that every Brent resident lives within 1.5 miles of a Brent library has been exposed as wrong.
Councillor John has made the claim repeatedly in the media as she struggled to justify Labour’s decision to axe half of Brent’s libraries in the face of massive public opposition.
The claim even appears in an official council news release posted on the council’s website and in the latest edition of the Brent Magazine (page 5). But the claim is untrue.
Thousands of residents (yellow areas) will be more than 1.5 miles from a library because of Labour’s library closures. Map shows situation in mid 2013 when the Town Hall library is due to move to the new Civic Centre site near Wembley Stadium and Willesden Green library is expected to be closed for redevelopment.
Analysis of the claim by the Liberal Democrats, using GIS mapping technology, reveals:
- Hundreds of Northwick Park and Sudbury residents already live more than 1.5 miles from Ealing Road, Kingsbury or the Town Hall libraries, following the closure of Barham Park library.
- The number of residents living more than 1.5 miles from a library will INCREASE when the Town Hall library shuts and is replaced by a library in the new Civic Centre
- Several thousand residents in Dollis Hill and Mapesbury wards will be more than 1.5 miles from a library when Willesden Green library is shut during the Willesden Green redevelopment project. These residents were able to use the more convenient Neasden and Cricklewood libraries until Labour closed both libraries last month.
Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Lorber, who has been closely involved with the Brent libraries campaign said:
This shows, once again, that we simply can’t trust Labour to give us the facts. More seriously it raises the question of whether Labour councillors knew that Cllr John’s claim was false when they voted to close six popular libraries in Brent.
Dollis Hill councillor Jack Beck, whose constituents are among those most affected by the library closures said:
Yet again we find out how unfair and illogical Labour’s library closures are. Residents in Dollis Hill, Mapesbury and Cricklewood already face some difficult journeys to use Willesden Green library following the closure of Cricklewood and Neasden libraries. When Willesden Green library shuts they will be even more disadvantaged.
The only sensible course of action is to keep our old libraries open while Willesden Green library is shut.
Dollis Hill Liberal Democrat councillors Jack Beck and Javaid Ashraf campaigning outside Neasden Library before it was closed by Labour
Brent Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Lorber has written to Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, to set the record straight on evidence the Secretary of State gave to Parliament’s Culture Media and Sport Select Committee last week (Thursday 27 October).
The Secretary of State pointed out that 151 councils operate libraries and that 140 of these authorities are modernising their service without large-scale library closures. (Brent is the only council to be closing as many as half of its libraries). He also commented that even where there are library closures and reductions in service, most councils are seeking to work with their local communities to reduce the impact.
The Labour councillors who run Brent Council stand alone in their determination both to close half of the borough’s libraries and to prevent the local community helping to keep the abandoned libraries open,
said Brent Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Paul Lorber.
However Jeremy Hunt got it wrong when he suggested that extra weekend opening hours might make up for the closure of Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Tokynton and Preston libraries.
In fact Ealing Road, Kingsbury and Willesden Green libraries already opened on Sundays so the much-trumpeted introduction of Sunday opening only applies to an extra three libraries.
Councillor Lorber added:
On the same day that he was before the Select Committee, local campaigners delivered a petition signed by thousands calling on Jeremy Hunt to act to preserve a comprehensive library service in Brent. He needs to listen to the voices of local library users and not the expensive spin from the council’s Labour leaders.