Brent Council call it the 'Libraries Transformation Project' - I prefer to call it the Libraries Closure Programme as it involves the closure of 6 out of Brent's 12 public libraries with the remainder becoming 'community hubs' (whatever that means).
The consultation programme begins this evening at Brent Town Hall with a public meeting about the proposals at 6.30pm. This is followed by an Open Day 10.30am-1pm and 2.30 - 5pm on Wednesday January 12th at Willesden Green Library.
The proposals will also be discussed at the Area Consultation Forums. In addition. according to the local press, the leader of the Council Cllr Ann John and deputy Cllr Muhammed Butt will also attend to talk about council cuts in general.
AREA CONSULTATION FORUM DATES AND VENUES
HARLESDEN Tuesday January 11th 7pm All Souls Church
KILBURN AND KENSAL RISE Wednesday January 12th 7pm Queens Park Community School
WEMBLEY Tuesday January 18th 7pm Patidar House, London Road
WILLESDEN Wednesday January 19th College of North West London, Dudden Hill Lane
KINGSBURY AND KENTON* Wednesday February 9th, Kingsbury High School
I hope the Council will be challenged on how they have arrived at its 'footfall' figures - do libraries have someone standing at the door counting how many people enter? I doubt it and book lending figures don't include visitors who use the library for other purposes than borrowing books. Another issue that has come up from some campaigners is reducing opening hours across the board rather than library closures. The figures of a 40% cut in opening times producing the required savings has been mentioned. It is argued this would preserve all the library buildings, six of which would otherwise be lost for good, and enable opening hours to be extended again in a more favourable economic climate. Clearly their are pros and cons to this option but we need to know if its has been considered.
Finally there is the puzzling proposal, not yet finalised to close Willesden Green Library for 2 years while the site is redeveloped to include revenue producing flats. This would mean the temporary closure of the flagship 'hub' in the south of the borough as well as the permanent closure of 6 libraries. Strategic thinking?