Brent Liberal Democrats have set out their plans to re-open local community libraries closed by Labour. The pledge will be part of the local Liberal Democrats’ platform for the forthcoming local elections, which take place on Thursday 22 May.
Councillor Paul Lorber and other local residents have consistently campaigned to re-open Barham Library
Liberal Democrat council group leader and library campaigner Paul Lorber said:
Liberal Democrat councillors stood side by side with the local community to oppose Labour’s library closures. Despite massive opposition Labour forced through the closure of half of our community libraries.
Labour then refused to work constructively with the volunteer library groups and has consistently voted down Liberal Democrat proposals to put things right.
Brent Liberal Democrats will:
- RE-OPEN closed community libraries in co-operation with local volunteers and Friends groups, including provision of paid staff and support from professional librarians.
- Provide TECHNOLOGY and STAFF support to volunteers and Friends Groups so they can take advantage of the council’s bookstock, IT and loan systems.
- Help with volunteer TRAINING and grant FUNDING.
Most of Brent’s former library buildings are still under the control or influence of Brent Council despite Labour’s desperate efforts to prevent their re-use as libraries.
Barham Park Library
The former library premises are vacant and available for re-use. Labour councillors on the Barham Park Trust Cabinet Committee attempted to block re-use of the building as a library by voting to lease the building for 15 years as artists’ studios but Brent Council’s Planning Committee refused permission for change of use. This decision is now subject to appeal.
Cricklewood Library was closed by Labour in October 2011
Labour’s closure of Cricklewood Library led to the building being transferred free of charge to All Souls College, which will benefit hugely from the sale of the building.
Any redevelopment of the site is likely to be conditional on adequate community space being provided following recent Brent Council Planning Committee’s decisions.
Unlike Labour, which did all it could to get rid of the building quickly, the Liberal Democrats will work with Friends of Cricklewood Library to make any development fit for purpose as a library, within the constraints of the planning system.
Kensal Rise Library
London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon with Councillor Barry Cheese and Councillor Paul Lorber supporting the pop-up library outside the closed Kensal Rise library
Notoriously Labour oversaw a 2am raid on Kensal Rise library to remove books and computers and enable its transfer free of charge away from local residents and into the hands of All Souls College.
Like Cricklewood any redevelopment of the site is likely to be conditional on adequate community space being provided after Brent Council Planning Committee decided to refuse planning permission for flats and inadequate community space.
A Liberal Democrat administration will work with Friends of Kensal Rise Library to make any development fit for purpose as a library, within the constraints of the planning system, including providing IT, staff and other support necessary to make a re-opened library a success.
Liberal Democrat campaigners Bob Wharton, Councillor Alison Hopkins and Councillor Javaid Ashraf campaigned to save Neasden Library from closure by Labour
The former Neasden Library premises are currently rented out to a church group by Brent Council. The Liberal Democrats will investigate re-opening Neasden Library when the church’s lease expires.
The “wall of shame” was erected by Labour-run Brent Council in front of the closed Preston library
The library building is still owned by the council and is expected to become available within the next eighteen months when Preston Park School no longer requires it for temporary classrooms. The election in May will be a choice between Labour’s plan to sell off the site for flats and commercial use and the Liberal Democrat plan to re-open a library.
Councillor Paul Lorber, who helps regularly at the Barham Volunteer Library set up by the Friends of Barham Library, added:
Brent residents have been massively let down by Labour’s attack on their libraries. This year’s election is local residents’ opportunity to choose between Labour’s library closures and the Liberal Democrats’ clear plan to bring back community libraries.