Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Community concerns voiced at January 16th Council Executive

The following representations by local residents were made at the meeting of the Brent Executive on January 16th (from the official Minutes):

Dilwyn Chambers spoke as a local resident on the Willesden Green Redevelopment Project.  Dilywn Chambers expressed concern about an apparent lack of details regarding responses from consultation in the report.  He felt that the art gallery, bookshop and Brent Irish Advisory Service (BIAS) had been given due notice that there would be no space for them at the new site as opposed to being properly consulted and he suggested that neither library staff nor users had been consulted about the proposals.  The Executive heard that the Valued Customer Panel set up in February 2011 was yet to meet.   Dilywn Chambers contested the accuracy of paragraph 4.14 in the report.

Martin Francis, speaking as a local resident, addressed the Executive over his concern about there being no provision for the Willesden Green bookshop in the proposals.  He commented that the bookshop stocked a wide range of books and provided an important educational role in the local community, including providing discount books for local schools.  The Executive heard that the bookshop had been praised in The Guardian newspaper.  Martin Francis stated that although the report had mentioned that there was no space available for the bookshop at the new site, it had not given the reasons as to why and he felt that the bookshop would provide a welcome attraction for the new site and provide community cohesion.  Furthermore, the bookshop was up to date with rent payments.  Martin Francis concluded by asserting that the council should be championing successful local businesses such as the bookshop and he requested that space for it be provided.

Philip Bromberg addressed the Executive speaking as a representative of Brent SOS libraries.  He stated that Brent SOS libraries had sent a letter to the Head of Libraries suggesting that Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries be kept open during the redevelopment of the Willesden Green site, which would be at no cost to the council and provide an ideal solution, whilst Brent SOS libraries would be willing to work with the council on this matter.  Philip Bromberg felt that there was not sufficient information for a decision on the proposed interim service delivery to be decided and further information from library staff was required.  Furthermore, the costings for Grange Road and the second additional temporary location were not known, whilst the locations for alternative sites for study spaces remained unspecified.  He asked that any decision be deferred before this information was known and to keep Crickewood and Kensal Rise libraries open during the Willesden Green redevelopment project.

Edward Lazarus, a resident of Cricklewood, also addressed the Executive.  He began by stating that the closure of Cricklewood and Neasden libraries, along with the redevelopment of Willesden Green library, meant that some 200 study spaces had been lost and that this meant that effectively only ten study spaces remained to cover a large area.  These study spaces played a vital role for some school children, particularly those in deprived areas who may come from overcrowded homes and the loss of the spaces meant they would have no other place to go and impact upon the education of those who needed it most.  Edward Lazarus asked that Cricklewood Library re-open for two years whilst the Willesden Green Redevelopment Project was being undertaken.

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