Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Authors round on Butt and Brent Council

The Guardian reports Muhammed Butt's comments at yesterday's meeting with Kensal Rise campaigners:
The leader of Brent council, Mohammed Butt, told campaigners he did not order the overnight removals and was not informed the clearance was happening until a couple of hours before council workers moved in.
"The decision to empty the building had been made before I took over the leadership and the go ahead was made by the police at that time on the basis of public safety concerns," he said. He added that his IT system had failed at home and that he had not found out about the removal until midnight last night.
But he stood by the decision to remove the items, saying they had been left in the building for months and would have begun to deteriorate had they remained.
He said the council's solicitors and those acting for All Souls College, Oxford, said the library building had now reverted to the college. He hoped All Souls would return the building to the use for which it was intended.
 Brent Council's action has been widely condemned:

Alan Gibbons, author said:

I grew up in an area where you didn’t vote Labour- you were Labour. As I became politically aware in the mid to late nineteen sixties, for all its flaws, we had an idea what Labour was about. It meant public service. It meant hospitals and schools that were free at the point of use. It meant libraries and swimming pools and municipal socialism.

Compare this hard-won, long-fashioned identity with the actions of Brent’s Labour council, skulking into Kensal Rise library in the early hours of the morning to strip it bare. I have written to Labour leader Ed Miliband asking him to condemn the council’s actions.

The shadow Culture Secretary Dan Jarvis was well received at the Speak up for Libraries rally in March for asking failed Culture Minister Ed Vaizey if he was a champion for libraries. That question will look like double standards if the Labour leadership fails to distance itself from this irresponsible act of cultural vandalism.
The removal was denounced as “wanton destruction” by the biographer Sir Michael Holroyd. And author Maggie Gee called the move “cowardice”. She said:
The philistinism of unscrewing the brass plaque remembering Mark Twain from its wall in the middle of the night, would horrify anyone who still recalls Labour’s founding mission to share education, knowledge and hope with the people. We will continue to fight for our library.
Fellow writer Michael Frayn said: 
The library is now an unlibrary, in the way that people became unpersons in the darkest days of the Soviet Union. I hope they took the titles of the books off as well. Removing unbooks from an unlibrary – who could possibly object?

1 comment:

The Local Don. said...

Who were the contractors that carried out this work for Brent Council?

The Local Don.