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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Kensal Green Puzzle

An anonymous commentator has suggested I use derogatory terms about local residents at the bottom of this post.  Having reread the post, I can't see anything derogatory.  As far as I can see s/he is complaining about a point of view that they don't like.

Can anyone explain to me otherwise?

I am always happy to publish comments provided that they are not libellous or offensive, but it seems to me that some people simply can't take a different point of view.


Thank you to the anonymous commentators.  As promised, provided comments are not offensive or libellous, I have published them.

The statistics used are all valid.  The process gone through, as a result of the litigants' legal action, was examined exhaustively.  The text of the judgement in High Court is on the side bar next to this post.  I have attended numerous public and private meetings on this subject, over a period adding up to many hours.  The litigants were unable to prove their case in court, or through the political process.

Brent Libraries service is now going ahead with the agreed strategy.  This strategy has had a number of successes, often enumerated in this blog.

I think that the key thing that those of us who do not directly work in Brent Library service can best do now is to support the library staff in their role in promoting library services around the Borough.

Responding to the last comment to date, my previous post explicitly refers to the 12 libraries and compares to the six.  The comparison (again) is that visits in September this year were only 1.5% down on September last year.  My view is that, after an admittedly rocky period in October to April, our libraries are definitely on the way up and anyone who believes in library services should celebrate the fact.


Anonymous said...

Agree with comments. You have consistently denigrated your constituents who disagree with you since you made the decision to close libraries. You constantly are having a go at people simply because YOU can't take a different point of view.
You are a councillor who is supposed to represent us - your constituents - not the ruler of a little fiefdom. At no stage have you honestly or seriously tried to engage with people that have a different point of view to yourself. You have been dismissive and hostile and amazingly arrogant.
I suppose if Ann John and Gareth Daniels can get the boot it won't be long before you too get told where to go and hopefully it won't be Kensal Green.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you can't see that what you post about libraries continually insults and impugns those who you serve. And perhaps that is the key: you maybe don't see yourself as serving those who voted for you.

I read that post as well and I too saw it as deeply insulting to the library campaigners - not for the first time, either. You started by publishing fallacious statistics and then went on to make an utterly unsubstantiated comment that lending and visits had been affected by the library campaign.

It's perhaps beating my own head against a brick wall, but do you honestly not get the fact that if people are STILL fighting your misguided proposals, STILL raising tens of thousands of pounds from poor communities and STILL opening pop ups, that they aren't going away?

Your blog, all too often, has an air of the nanny knows best: the comment about changing behaviours showed that well. That may not be how you think, but it's how you are perceived. Hell bent on imposing your will on the people of Brent, rather than actually listening and taking note. You talk, mostly, about things and objects, not about real people and what matters to them. Go and walk the streets, spend hours on end listening, not dictating. Absorb, don't impose and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Oy vey.

Statistics, process, politics and strategy.

What about people? Real live breathing people, rather than dialectic?

Your update doesn't in the least suggest you ever have listened to what is said and felt.

And your statistics, as used were wrong: you compared six open libraries, without taking into account the six closed. Do that, and it's a very differnt picture.

Sorry, but much as you might like it, this isn't going away and nor are the library campaigners.

Anonymous said...

Derogatory comments are warranted, on occasion, and can be a good thing. That is, and has been, the problem with this country for the past twenty or so years, lack of free speech, and look at the state it's left us in today!!

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

It was me that made the comment you mention and I made it because, in my view, having read many of your posts - I find your general tone to all those battling to save libraries as derogatory.

This post was one of many that gave this impression. You see them (the campaigners) as a constant thorn in the side of what you believe to be common sense.

I make no judgement here about your library strategy, but I have not once heard you commend the library campaigners for the work they have done to try and raise awareness, build community cohesion, raise funding, encourage volunteering and much else they have done for libraries and the local community.

How about a post referring to this and thanking them for their hard work. I know you believe this all to be an anti-Brent Council attack group - but having spoken to so many residents, I can assure you it is not. It is about standing up for local residents and their local services. This is the essence of local democracy that you surely must applaud?

You regularly slate the Conservatives for their views and disregard for public services but you cannot see that your council is doing the same. It seems ironic therefore that you felt my comment was from someone who can't take another point of view. I can take plenty of other points of views - I can see the cost pressures that Brent Council are under, I can see the need to modernise the library service, and I can understand the pressures of local politics that you are under.

But I cannot understand your attitude to campaigners.

Another thing I just can’t square with common sense is your logic to giving away Kensal Rise Library to All Souls.

Again, putting aside for a second views about whether your overall library strategy is sensible. I just put to you this simple view I have of the situation:

1. A long time ago, local residents were gifted a building by All Souls college on the condition that it remained a library.
2. Along comes a Council with cost cutting pressures and closes it
3. Rather than consider alternatives community-led solutions to retaining public value from this building and also reducing direct costs for Brent Council, you decided to trigger a reverter which meant that the building was effectively given back to All Souls free of charge. Brent Council, as far as I am aware, received nothing for a valuable building in a prime location.
4. Surprise, surprise, Developers come along and now look to be developing this building as flats.

There is no obvious net gain for Brent Council of this. You had a building free of charge which you have now given away.

So where is the logic in this – please help me understand. In really simple terms, what you have gained by giving the building back to All Souls?

1. If you answer that its reduced costs to Brent Council in respect to running KR Library – I will ask why therefore you did not consider the community business plan which would have reduced these costs too, saved you money and delivered public value to residents too.

2. If you answer anything about the future value in using the building as flats, I will ask why this was not made clear in the outset. There is certainly no net gain for residents in respect of library access.

I do not intend my comments to be a personal criticism of you (I am glad you are willing to host comments on your blog) - I just genuinely do not understand the approach to releasing the building nor what I perceive as general contempt for the campaigners.


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