Kensal Rise campaigners barricade doors

Kensal Rise campaigners barricade doors

Library campaigners in Kensal Rise have barricaded the doors to prevent council staff from clearing the building of books today.

Around 50 campaigners have gathered outside the Brent library and prevented eight council workers accompanied by Brent’s head of libraries Sue Mackenzie, from taking the boxes of books, according to a report in the Guardian.

The campaigners lost their legal battle to keep the library open in February. At 7.30am this morning, the council workers arrived to pack up books.

Liberal Democrat Group leader Paul Lorber said the action, taking place on the last day in office of council leader Ann John, was "inappropriate". He said: "This is a kick in the teeth for local residents, who have demonstrated their opposition to Labour’s library closure plan at every opportunity. It would have been appropriate to pause the process until library campaigners had a chance to meet the new council leader, Muhammed Butt.

"Inevitably this will lead to speculation that Ann John and libraries portfolio holder James Powney wanted to empty the library and get rid of the building quickly to make any change in policy as difficult as possible.”

A police officer has surveyed the situation at the library.

One protestor told the Independent: “This feels like D-Day. This is the day we've been building up to."

Another told the Guardian: “It's the action of an attitude of vendetta by the outgoing regime at Brent council. They cannot justify this by claiming lack of funds because we have said we'll run it as a voluntary library and open it up for the community at no cost to the taxpayer. We are defending the library and we are not going to be moral inferiors to the Victorians who created this library 111 years ago. We are going to campaign and fight and save the library. This is not the end."

Councillor Butt, who steps into his new role as council leader tonight, told the Brent & Kilburn Times he was trying to find out “exactly what was going on” following today’s developments.