The Labour Party presentation making their promise to Preston Library
The Labour Group is meeting tonight and will discuss Preston Library. This is a letter to them from a local resident:
Dear Brent Councillor,
I know that tonight the labour group are meeting to discuss the future of Preston Library, and of the Community Library that has been providing services to local residents for the past year. Whatever is decided will go to Cabinet next week. You are considering using the site to provide five small flats, with some community space to the rear of the property.
You may not all be aware of the loss to the community that could arise because of these plans. The original Council run library closed five years ago and a great service to local people was lost.. For the past fifteen months Preston Community Library has provided a range of services for local people, and has become an indispensable resource.
In case you don't all know, the services are as follows:
1. Adult lending library with fiction, non fiction and reference sections.
2. An attractive children's library with books, displays and activities to match.
3. Computers and free computer classes for local people
4. ESOL [English as a Second Language] classes for residents who need to learn or improve their English
5. Newspapers [often used by Esol Students to improve their reading]
6. A community cinema showing films for both adults and children, often with speakers. We are grateful to Brent for Ward Working funds to purchase our professional equipment.
7. A range of classes, which have included yoga, keep fit, knitting and others. More can be arranged if we have a longer licence [such as Arabic, Spanish and Farsi]
8. The Summer Reading Challenge for children, supported by Brent library service
9. A range of individual events such as talks on mental health [from CNWL], play readings, story telling, author visits, story writing, creative writing and scrabble group meetings.
Local people have come into the library to access services and to meet people. Many of our customers are elderly or vulnerable, and many customers tell us that they feel much less alone since we opened. We are entirely run by volunteers and from donations, so we have provided these services at very little cost to the Council.
At a public meeting attended by both local people and Brent Councillors, we were promised that the building would be offered to the community as a library, at a peppercorn rent, subject to the need for school places. There are no schools using the building at present [we have shared with them], and we have occupied the building on a proper licence agreement in a fully responsible manner. We are a registered charity. We were very shocked to learn that you are considering 'marketing' this community space to 'other community groups' in the area. This seems to be a breach of the promise that was made.
It is essential that this facility is kept open for local people, who have little else nearby. I hope that councillors will remember this when discussing the development proposals this evening and at Cabinet next week.
Preston Community Library and local resident.