A crowded public meeting of the Preston Library Campaign heard speakers from Brent Labour, Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Greens and TUSC on the future of the closed Brent libraries. A full account of the meeting can be found HERE on my colleague Shahrar Ali's blog.
At the end of the meeting a show of hands clearly demonstrated support for a professionally staffed and publicly funded library with a slightly lower number in favour of a volunteer run library. However, afterwards some indicated if a voluntary run library was the only solution they would reluctantly support that.
Cllr Roxanne Mashari, lead member for environment, was clear that no budget existed for a re-opening of the library due to central government cuts in local authority funding. She cited her negotiations with the Friends of Kensal Rise Library as a precedent for Preston.
She said that when the ex-Preston Library building was no longer required by Preston Park Primary School in a year's time, the Council would be willing to rent it out to a voluntary group at a peppercorn rent. The Council would also be prepared to give the building ACV (Asset of Community Value) status. All this would be conditional on a robust business plan for the project.
Seems like the whole evening was staged.
Local people did not hear from actual candidates standing in Preston Ward.
The promise that old Preston Rd building will become available is unclear.
The building could easily be sold or if school expansions don't go according to plan the build could still be needed.
The whole thing was a political stunt.
Affraid not impressed.
Weird comment, how would such a meeting be 'staged'. Meeting was the result of a lot of hard work by Friends of Preston Library who want to bring the libraries issue to the top of the local agenda. Hopefully this had some success, and the number of politicians who showed up is an indication of how nervous the Council is of campaigners.
No, the meeting was not staged. The meeting was planned by The Friends of Preston Library, an apolitical group. In fact you heard from 3 of the Preston Ward candidates on the night: Cllr Harshadbhai Patel, who formally addressed the meeting, and Cllr Patricia Harrison and Michael Maurice who spoke from the floor. The list of candidates for Preston Ward is available on this link: http://www.brent.gov.uk/media/9324919/Local%20election%202014%20Statement%20of%20Persons%20Nominated.pdf. The Friends would encourage you to contact them with your questions.
It's the 'Wembley Nutters' effect. Brings all sorts of nutters to the surface.
As pointed out by a few people at the meeting.
Preston residents wanted to hear from standing candidates they will be voting for.
We did not want to listen to all the puppets.
What would local representatives do for local people ?
Simple as that.
There seems little point in voting for main party ward Councillors, if they have little voice and can't even stand up for themselves !
LOL. If Cllr Roxanne Mashari and her cabinet colleagues are so fond of ACV status, what does she have to say about the failed ACV-listing of the former Kensal Rise Library building? A 38 Degrees' petition is currently asking Brent Council to prohibit the change-of-use of ACV-listed buildings. Has Ms Mashari signed yet?
Councillor Mashari was gloating last night about her claimed success in securing a deal for Kendal Rise and Cricklewood.
But this deal is all show to help Labour re-election. The deal is not what people want as the building was listed as an asset of community value. Yet Councillor Mashari seems to forgot important details that have to be considered, in her haste to secure a deal at any cost.
Ironically it was FKRL who wanted an ACV listing, but even they now seem to want to forget about this minor detail.
The whole point of ACV is to protect community buildings from development.
The whole affair and FKRL have ended up a big "Joke."
Sadly, I have to agree - remember also that Roxanne Mashari has her eyes on Westminster. I've long suspected that Cllr Mashari might be behind the deal that FKRL has done with Andrew Gillick and All Souls, and wondered how she squares that with her previous denunciation of the fraudulent email affair. I hope she'll use this blog to answer that question. The tragedy is that, for whatever reasons, FKRL appears to have followed her lead.
I wish I understood why so many people feel the need to post anonymously on this (or any other) site. I am the chair of Friends of Preston Library, and spoke at last night's meeting. As someone else has said here, our intention was to keep the library closures at the top of the political agenda. Whether we've been at all successful isn't for me to judge.
I quite agree that the future of the Preston Library building is far from certain - Roxanne has left herself plenty of escape routes. I've just listened to the tape, and this is what she said: "The Labour Party in Brent will offer the building at a peppercorn rent to any local community group who can provide a sustainable community library. That is our pledge." Is this pledge made in good faith? I've no idea - one very sad legacy of this campaign is a very deep distrust of Brent Council and of some of its senior officers. But there are surely a couple of real and very welcome changes here. Firstly, selling the building is no longer the Council's preferred option. And secondly, having spent a couple of years hiding behind legal advice that the Council could not use any resources for anything resembling a library, they are now apparently ready, eager even, to commit a building and officers' time to achieve a community library in Carlton Avenue East. This must surely be progress.
Finally, and briefly, FOPL is not focused solely on Preston ward; about half of the active members live elsewhere - the chair, secretary and treasurer all live in Barnhill. We invited (with just 2 exceptions) every candidate from Preston, Barnhill, Kenton and Northwick Park. Clearly FOPL had no control over who chose to turn up, or over whether those who did turn up chose to speak. If I've understood it correctly, the suggestion here is that our meeting was a stunt 'staged' for the benefit of the Labour Party. I think Mo Butt and Roxanne would be pretty astonished by that.
Philip Bromberg, Chair, Friends of Preston Library.
They're after your vote on 22 May, Philip.
well said Phil.
for those who don't understand the acronyms, ACV is 'asset of community value', FKRL is not something rude, it stands for Friends of Kensal Rise Library, and FOPL is Friends of Preston Library.
Perhaps in future you should give actual candidates in the Ward the opportunity to speak.
Councillor Roxanne Mashari may not be the lead for libraries etc in a couple of weeks.
This whole event was sold to local people to listen to candidates in the ward.
I did not come to listen to Roxanne or any of the other Leaders. I attended to hear from actual standing local candidates for Preston Ward.
No Butt and Roxanne should not be astonished as this is how proceedings came across.
While agreeing that Anonymous postings can be frustrating, a likely reason for commentators wishing to keep their identities secret when writing about library matters is because of the sneering and abuse that those who've posted openly have received. It's happened on Twitter also.
I just wanted to say that I was invited by Philip to attend as one of the candidates for Kenton ward, and was in no way encouraged to say anything as part of a 'staged' meeting.
I attended in good faith due to public interest from Kenton residents whom I have spoken to on the doorstep. Moreover, due to having a personal interest (I went to school locally at Preston Manor and used the library space as a student) and professional experience working for a public library service in the past, I felt that I should attend and contribute if possible.
I want to make clear that I had no intention of speaking beforehand but felt based on the statements by speakers that I should ask a question of how some of their proposals could be funded. This was an honest attempt to clarify what I heard, and felt that this would benefit the audience.
Candidate for Kenton ward
I'm hoping this will be my final contribution to this conversation, but there are a couple of things here that call for a reply:
You're quite right - Roxanne may not be leading on libraries on May 23, which is precisely why, when she put these proposals to us as her 'personal preference' in a meeting last week, we asked her to put this to a public meeting as the policy of Brent's Labour Party. That's what we asked her to do, and, in fairness, that's what she did.
I repeat yet again that we are not a party-political group: we are campaigning for the return of a public library to Preston Road. Again, I regret that people are posting here anonymously, but since the meeting I've spoken to Tory, LibDem and TUSC candidates, and no one has complained of any unfairness. The last thing people saw was our film which (thanks, Martin) is at the top of this page. Labour did complain about this film, saying that it was 'confrontational', 'heavily party political' (it isn't) and 'not ... conducive to a balanced and fair debate'. As I say, it closed the meeting.
Just for the record: Those candidates who spoke were; Paul Summers, Preston, TUSC: Harshadbhai Patel, Preston, Conservative: Patricia Harrison, Preston, Labour; Michael Maurice, Preston, Conservative; Ahmed Nadhim, Kenton, Labour; Paul Lorber, on behalf of Lib Dems: Martin Francis, on behalf of Greens; Roxanne Mashari, Labour, in her capacity as Lead Member for Environment and Neighbourhoods. There were at least four other 'Preston' Candidates in attendance that I recognised, possibly others that I didn't. If you had had any questions for them you could have directed them specifically to the appropriate Party Candidate. Now... of the twelve candidates standing; I think (with obvious time constraints; we had to tidy up and vacate the premises by 10.00pm) that that was about as representative as you could get! However... if you would like to contribute your expertise to organising the next time... please get in touch.
2 days, and still checking to see if anyone could be bothered to reply? Oh dear.
According to this mornings BBC1 Sunday Politics, Brent is the only London borough to have closed any libraries. Perhaps Cllr Mashari would like to comment.
Heres the link Ms Mashari
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