Monday 26 December 2011

Brent Council: 'Philistines of the year 2011'?

This letter was published in the current edition of the Brent and Kilburn Times:
I was dismayed to hear that  the Willesden Bookshop has been given notice to quit by the Council ahead of the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library. No retail space has been set aside for the bookshop in the new development and they are unlikely to be able to afford the rents demanded elsewhere on the High Road.

Half our libraries have already been closed, Willesden Green Library will be closed from July 2012 until March 2014, and the lease on  Kingsbury Plus expires in September 2013 - and now we are likely to lose our excellent local bookshop in April next year. Kilburn High Road is a poorer place following the closure of the Kilburn Bookshop in March 2010 - is Willesden High Road going to be similarly deprived?

It seems extraordinary that we have to remind a Labour Council of the importance of books to a community such as that of Brent where the hunger for education and self-improvement unites people across the spectrum of social class and ethnicity. The Willesden Bookshop offers a nationally renowned service to local schools through its expertise in the provision of children's books for a diverse community. Teachers are able to browse the collection and hand-pick books matched to the needs of the children and curriculum of their particularly schools - and get a 10% discount in the process.

For the adult  customer Amazon may be cheaper but nothing beats the sheer pleasure of handling a real book, sampling a paragraph or two and the serendipity of spotting other attractive books nearby when browsing. In addition there is a knowledgeable person behind the counter who has an affinity with books that your keyboard lacks!

The Willesden Bookshop has always supported local authors and thus makes a contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the borough. They make an economic contribution through creating local jobs, bring money into the local economy and contribute to the diversity of our high street. Labour seems ready to see all this wiped out, leaving us with high streets dominated by betting shops and take-aways, and of course the much lauded 'designer outlets' they are building near Wembley Stadium.

If Brent Council is to escape the title of 'Philistines of the Year 2011' it must make sure that it finds a way of safeguarding Willesden Bookshop  for future generations.

Martin Francis
Brent Green Party spokesperson on children and families


Anonymous said...

Its just what you would expect, Anne John OBE gets her books from Tesco's

Anonymous said...

I very much doubt that Ann John sets foot inside any shops in Brent let alone the libraries.