Stand-off at Kensal Rise Library continues

Stand-off at Kensal Rise Library continues

Library campaigners remain outside Kensal Rise Library this morning (14th October) after three times preventing the boarding up of the library by council workmen.

The residents remained outside the building all night, following its closure yesterday after a High Court challenge to prevent the Brent library closures failed.

An attempt to board up the library yesterday afternoon failed after residents, including many children, gathered to demonstrate outside.
Campaigner Margaret Bailey said workmen arrived again before 6am this morning (14th October) and were persuaded not to go ahead with the work.

"At 8am four vans and the head of Brent's property services arrived, and we managed to persuade him that it would be so shocking in this community to board up the library, and so heartbreaking," she said. "He has said that for the moment they won't board it up and we're trying to organise a meeting to discuss our proposals for the library."  Bailey promised campaigners would remain outside Kensal Rise library "for the duration", day and night, until they have assurances about its future.

Meanwhile author Philip Pullman has spoken out after the library campaigners failed in their legal bid to stop Brent council closing six libraries, including Kensal Rise. Pullman said the decision would allow local authorities to be "even more destructive of the social good".

Pullman, who spoke at a fund-raising event for the campaign, was one of several high profile authors who spoke to the Guardian newspaper. He said: "I can hear the popping of champagne corks all over the country as philistine local authorities welcome this news with joy; it will encourage them to be even more destructive of the social good, even more careless of their responsibilities, even more stupid."

Inspector Morse author Colin Dexter described the move as  "cultural deprivation". In response to Brent council leader Ann John's claim that the ruling would mean "We can push ahead with our exciting plans to improve Brent's library service and offer a 21st-century service", he said "It's quite extraordinary that you set out upon such a wise and noble aim by closing the libraries . . . It seems to be cultural deprivation that we should dismantle this great legacy of the 19th century".

Meanwhile former children's laureate Jacqueline Wilson, who also took part in a fundraising event, said it was "dreadful", revealing she had "practically lived in the library as a little girl". Other high profile campaigners included Zadie Smith, Alan Bennett and the Pet Shop Boys.

The Independent reports that council workmen were "scared off" by "angry crowds" as they tried to bolt the doors to Kensal Rise library. According to the paper, a crowd of more than 70 had gathered to chant "save our libraries". BBC reports that around 150 campaigners turned up to demonstrate. Brent Libraries SOS spokeswoman Margaret Bailey said: "At about 14:00 BST builders arrived who wanted to board up the windows and doors. But they were reluctant to cross the protest line."