Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Mrs R G Lawler

Summary

Impact on community.

All-age use of library.

Secretary of State.

Brent Council.

1. The impact on my life is that I have no Library books or audio material in my house. I have no access to the information and contact normally available in Preston Road Library, which is less than a mile walk from my house. Brent Council’s suggestion of the Town Hall as an alternative is clearly made by someone who has never tried to use it. Even with a car it is still almost impossible. The impact on others can be calculated by realizing that for many users Preston Library is not only a source of information. It is also a tool to help in settling in an unfamiliar land. The loss must be giving the message that Brent doesn’t want them and doesn’t care. Later there may be a heavy price to pay. Books on “Britishness” and those in Asian languages, alongside books for children to use in school work in English, together with various electronic media were what Preston library was about. It was, and must be again, a model to be admired.

2. The encouragement of adults and children to make full use of the Library service I understand is a duty of the Authority under the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act. Brent Council is clearly, by its actions, unwilling to undertake this and is thus “unfit for purpose” Every possible obstacle has been put in the way of library users in the past months. Closure of Libraries is a powerful tool in the hands of unfit people. Older people, often no longer drivers, of whom there are an increasing number in the Preston Road area, cannot make any of the journeys suggested by the Council. I would certainly not send a school child to walk the double route along a dangerous un-policed road, to reach the Town Hall and because of the distance have to return after dark for much of the year. It is simply not reasonable.

3. The Secretary of State is the one on whom one should be able to rely to enable Government policy to be carried out. It appears that the Council can act against this with impunity.

4. Brent Council’s behavior is reminiscent of tactics used in East Germany in order to gain control of people. For instance, provision of consultation documents relating to their closure plans were suppressed. Staff were instructed not to supply any unless specifically asked. The building was boarded up un-necessarily. The “Wall of Shame” was taken down at Christmas, with police protection and it is said that the books have been removed. This is before the legal process is complete. These are actions of a Council prepared to do anything to impose its will, spending money for this purpose rather than in providing a Library service. It is time that detailed analysis was made of how council-tax-payers’ money is spent in Brent, and also of what the Council proposes to do with the Preston Library site if or when it is snatched away from those who fought to have a library there in the first place. Who, exactly would benefit?

January 2012

Prepared 5th November 2012