Saturday 11 August 2012

Ed, Dan and Mo and the tale of a library

From the Good Library Blog LINK

A hundred years ago, All Souls College in Oxford, who own land in the area of Willesden in North London, gave a part of it to Willesden Council for the purpose of a public library and reading room
The only condition of the free gift was that the building, which is in Kensal Rise, should remain used in that way.

If it stopped being used like that, then the ownership of building and land would 'revert' to All Souls. The deed which states all this is clear and still exists. The responsibilities that lay with Willesden council have since become responsibilities of the London Borough of Brent 

Earlier this year, in 2012, Brent Council decided - for some reason that is still not completely and properly explained- that it no longer wanted to use this 'Kensal Rise Library' and they removed, in the middle of the night, the council's assets, like books and furniture and art, thus making it, in their eyes, no longer a library.
And so, as the original deed had envisaged, the building 'reverted' to the ownership of All Souls College - who rather to their surprise and astonishment, find themselves with a large building in North London which is currently empty and unused. 

The local people of Kensal Rise in long running despair of the actions of their local council have tried every which way they can to prevent the closure of their library. Their efforts are noble, considerable and now world famous. They include the creation of a community library within the precinct of the building in an attempt to prevent the 'reverter' clause from acting. (the library cat is called Rusty)

One would have thought that the normal response of councillors and highly paid public officials in Brent, to the local people, would have been to be sympathetic, at least, and to explain their reasons and even, if it were possible, to bend their conclusions and plans to try to help meet the desires of the residents.
On the contrary, the constant response of Brent's Labour Council has been to sneer, to deride, to deceive, to dismiss and in the end to behave in the most disgraceful and even disgusting manner possible. The local people in response have only been articulate and polite in their argument for the importance of this and other community libraries.

The council's behaviour indeed, caused sufficient embarrassment in Labour Headquarters, which are not so far away that the waves of public derision passed them by, that both Ed Millband, the leader and Dan Jarvis, the spokesperson for public libraries, weighed in and tried to make it appear all right. They even tried to arrange for some dialogue where very little had taken place beforehand. 

But this has all proved to be water in the sunshine - they were unable to make any difference
To the list of evils for which one must blame all these Labour Politicians and dandies, one must add deep dishonour. 

Brent Council should have returned Kensal Rise Library, if it was going to do that, in at least as good a state of repair as they received it from All Souls 

All Souls are now faced with a repair bill of Five Hundred Thousand Pounds - which is the cost of putting right a building neglected by those people to whom it was given in good faith and trust. 

If Dan Jarvis is to persuade anyone that he is credible in his arguments - and particularly when he accuses others of failing in their responsibilities for public libraries, as he regularly does,- then he and Ed Millband, should tell the Labour Councillors of Brent that good honour and honest behaviour - to say nothing of normal practice in the use of other peoples' property- demands that they immediately make over Five Hundred Thousand Pounds for the renovation of the building that they dilapidated. 

If only all these people were just honest, simple and straightforward there would be no problem with public libraries. Oh I wish

No comments: