'Cowardly' midnight raid on Kensal Rise library

'Cowardly' midnight raid on Kensal Rise library

A Kensal Rise campaigner has deemed “cowardly” a midnight raid by Brent Council to empty Kensal Rise library, which was closed last year, of its books.

The building was emptied between 2am and 3am this morning (29th May). It is understood that around 15 council workers, escorted by police officers, stripped the library of books, murals, plaques, furniture and cooking equipment.

Margaret Bailey, who has campaigned to save Kensal Rise from closure and latterly to turn it into a volunteer-run library, said new Brent council leader Mohammad Butt had reneged on his promise to leave mural and furniture in the venue. “We may be finished with Brent council but our campaign continues. We will not let their cowardly, middle of the night plundering defeat us,” Bailey said.

Kensal Rise library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain, and is housed on premises owned by All Soul's College in Oxford, has been the subject of a long campaign with supporters including authors Zadie Smith, Philip Pullman and Alan Bennett. Alongside five other Brent libraries, it was closed in 2011 after legal challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal failed to get the council's plans ruled unlawful.

A Brent council spokesman said: "On the advice of the police, the council removed its property from the building in the early hours of the morning. We will now hand the keys back to All Souls College. The books and other materials will be sorted and distributed amongst the council's six libraries for the use of all Brent residents. The council has committed to contacting All Souls College on behalf of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to enable discussion between the two parties."