Councillor Paul Lorber and other library campaigners are working to re-open Barham Library
Brent taxpayers are in the bizarre position of paying for both sides of the argument over whether the former Barham Park library buildings should be converted for office and light industrial use.
One part of of the council will soon argue to the independent planning inspector that Brent Council planning committee’s decision to refuse permission should be upheld. At the same time another part of the council will pay a consultant to argue that the councillors’ decision should be overturned.
Labour-run Brent Council has not revealed full details about the forthcoming planning appeal, which is against the planning committee’s decision last November to refuse an application to change the use of part of Barham Park Library buildings from community use to offices and light industrial.
This is an outrageous use of public money to subvert a democratic decision made by elected councillors from all parties,
said Sudbury Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Lorber.
Taxpayers are footing the bill for the consequences of Labour councillors’ decision to close Barham Library in October 2011. The council invited bids to rent the empty space. The bidding documents made clear that the successful bidder was responsible for obtaining planning permission. To everyone’s surprise the successful bidder, the Notting Hill-based Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Arts (known as ACAVA), did not submit a planning application. Instead Brent Council agreed to to do so at public expense. The planning application was prepared by Brent Council officers and the £2,500 fees were paid by the council from public funds.
To the delight of local people, the planning application was refused by members of Brent Council’s planning committee. However Labour councillors then decided to submit a planning appeal at a cost of up to £10,000, mainly on consultants’ fees. The council has appointed a planning consultant but has refused to provide details of the tender document or the costs.
Councillor Lorber added:
Clearly Labour Councillors are ashamed of closing Barham Library and five others and hope their betrayal of local people will not cost them votes in the local elections in May.
Barham Library has been empty for nearly 30 months and has cost local taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds to keep vacant. Brent Liberal Democrats have pledged to reopen Barham Library and to support volunteer library groups across the whole of Brent.
Councillor Paul Lorber is a volunteer with Friends of Barham Library which operates two volunteer libraries from small premises at Sudbury Town Underground Station and 428 High Road Wembley. The volunteer libraries provide thousands of books to borrow and buy and activities for people of all ages including a chess club, reading club and arts & crafts activities for children on Saturdays in Sudbury Town.
Their campaign to get back into the closed library building in Barham Park continues.
Recently long standing library campaigner Francis Henry of Daniels Estate Agents urged residents across Brent to use their votes at the forthcoming election to vote for library supporters and against Labour candidates in order to deprive Labour of control of Brent Council.