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Monday, 19 September 2016

More Library Bumbling by Butt

I mentioned on Saturday the potential danger of a "community library strategy".  This is the sad, but predictable, result of the way Cllr Butt has been stringing the Preston group along for years.  Indeed, it my just be yet another stage.

What the Preston group really want is to be given the Preston Annexe for free.  As I have explained, that is contrary to the Council's fiduciary duty, and is now made even less possible as a result of its Asset of Community Value status.  Cllr Butt probably doesn't care about either of those in themselves, but I suspect he would be worried about getting caught disregarding them.

There is a fundamental mismatch between the expectations that Cllr Butt encourages and what Brent Council can legally deliver.

The greater danger from his various manoeuvrings is that a Dollis Hill House type situation arises, where huge amounts of officer time and money are spent fruitlessly, and distracting from the challenging but successful job Brent libraries are doing in improving services despite budget cuts.  In other cases elsewhere in the country, this has resulted in the Council staff feeling that they are being forced to devote inordinate time to advising volunteers on how to run services, and the voluntary group resenting what they perceive to be a lack of support.  Indeed many people think that volunteer libraries just can't be made to work as a long term solution.

Certainly, when the Council considered the idea of this kind of "Big Society" approach, it not only decided none of the solutions were viable (a decision that Cllr Butt endorsed at the time), it was actually sued by the groups concerned

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