Communities Fight to Stop Library Closures
Across London local communities have been fighting back against the cuts, demanding that their libraries stay, stating that they are a vital part of the local infrastructure. Brent is the latest council to act, where the ‘SOS Libraries’ campaigners have been refused permission to take the council to the Supreme Court this week. This was after a strong community action of 24-hour vigils, but still six libraries will close. Other campaigns around Kensal Rise and Preston are also struggling to win, but will continue to fight. This is despite a consultation into the proposals showing that 82% of respondents were against the closures, the council announced in April last year that Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton libraries would shut. Brent Council announced plans to close six out of Brent’s 12 libraries to save £1 million in 2010. Residents united by their anger formed Brent SOS Libraries to stop the closures and took their fight to the High Court and Appeal Court but lost. The council began stripping bare the libraries before Christmas but undeterred the campaigners formed pop-up libraries outside the closed reading rooms including Kensal Rise Library which was opened 111 years ago by American author Mark Twain. Over the coming year it is estimated that as many as 600 libraries could close although so far, due to the public anger, only 32 have actually been shut down. Some are being handed over to local communities to control and others are being privatised. Even where the fight back is successful the staff are being cut back to a minimum.