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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Defending Brent Libraries Again

A former Green candidate makes a comment here.  It covers a disparate number of points.  The only one I want to pick up on is referring to Brent's library policy as "indefensible".

On the contrary, it has been successfully defended on numerous occasions.  Politically, I argued it through numerous meetings.  I accept that a small number of activists cannot accept its merits whatever the evidence, but I think that the election results both in May 2012 and May 2014 indicate that the electorate at large was not inclined to punish the Labour Party at the ballot box.  In fact the 2012 and 2014 results are arguably the best election results Brent Labour Party has ever had.

The policy was also tested in the courts of course.  Whereas other authorities that have been subjected to challenge _ Gloucestershire, Somerset, Surrey, Moray for example _ have all had elements of their case criticised by the courts, Brent's came through vindicated on every point.   To suggest otherwise is, in the words of the Judge, "simply wrong". 

In fact, I would argue that the Brent Libraries Transformation Project is an exemplary case of how Councils should redesign services in the face of budgetary contraction.  The required financial saving of almost £1 million per annum was made as prefigured in the initial proposals in November 2010.  Despite the budget reduction, Brent Library service has improved on the two key standard figures of visits and loans.  There have also been improvements in individual aspects of the service such as homework clubs, seven day opening, home library loans, outreach, the refurbishment of Kilburn Library, a refurbishment of Ealing Road Library and an entirely new library at Wembley. The service will further improve when the enhanced Willesden Library Centre opens next year

This picture of an improving service serving greater and greater numbers of people (to their enhanced satisfaction) stands in sharp contrast to most other authorities who are pursuing either closures or handing over buildings to volunteers (which I suspect will simply be a set of slow motion closures).


It is probably worth adding Brent's figures for ebook lending as an additional benefit.

I should also point out I have answered the comment below suggesting that the building in Kensal Rise was "given away" here. In fact everyone now accepts it was not.


More up to date (First half of 2014-15) figures on loans and visits can now be found here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could have had your Transformation Programme but you did not have to give away the Kensal Rise Library building to a super rich Oxford College who has sold it to a developer.
Nothing you say will ever justify giving away this asset.And don't blather on about a 'robust' business plan. Ordinary citizens trying to save the library - you never gave them a chance. Better those 'amateurs' trying to run the library than making a rich Oxford College even richer. How do you justify that?
Just a vindictive act and really good example of not listening to your constituents. We may have had disagreements over the library and your library policy but you did not have to give the building away.
Who is listening to You now?

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