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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Brent Adopting Library Privatisation

Brent Council appears to be adopting Library privatisation just as other authorities shun it.  On Monday, the Cabinet agreed to effectively hand over a quarter of a million of taxpayers money to the "Preston Community Library" Group with apparently no questions asked.  It is unclear to me whether Council officers will have informed members of the points I raised in my email to them on Saturday.

Of course, it is the members of the Executive who actually take the decision so if there are legal issues arising (including possible criminal prosecution) it will be the councillors who get indicted.

It is very odd that Brent are adopting a rather incompetent form of privatisation of taxpayers assets just as the Carillion debacle is making it unfashionable.  Indeed, had previous Brent decisions gone the other way, Brent would have privatised its libraries and be now taking them back in house following the Carillion collapse.

I find it very hard to see why Brent Council is so interested in privatising libraries.

Meanwhile, Martin Francis reports that the same officer who oversees this belated privatisation of Brent Libraries also seems to have an insouciant attitude to whether objections to the Queens Parade development in Willesden are actually coming from members of the public. Of course, as with any planning application it is not a vote so if members conclude that the supporting letters are from the same source it does not in that sense matter.  The merits of the application will be the same whether the letters are genuine or not.

UPDATE 15.03.18

I think Scott needs to think a bit more about his comment, and possibly (re?)read the post above.  The Brent Libraries Transformation Project has been an undoubted success and this was recognised by a vote of full Council as recently as January 2018, which stated that one of the best achievements of the Brent Labour administration since 2010 was: "Transforming  our libraries  service into one of the most successful and  most accessible in the country".  Given the facts, that conclusion is fairly irresistible to any reasonable person. 

The post above also shows that a publicly owned, publicly run public service is every bit as good as privatised libraries or "mutuals" (which often aren't) and as volunteer libraries.  It further questions whether what is going on with Preston "Library" is a proper procurement or simply an exercise in cronyism.

I will will probably do a more in depth post on this later on (UPDATE: Here is the promised more in depth post).

By the way I already raised questions about the CIL payments in Wembley in this post.  


1 comment:

  1. Let me get this straight Mr Powney.
    You, a cheerleader of Library closures in Brent (who lost your seat as Councillor due to adopting an unpopular position of being pro Library closures) are now attacking Preston Road Community Library, a charity incorporated after Labour closed the library - for gaining receipt of public funds - as an example of privatisation?

    Therefore, I assume (please correct me If I'm wrong) a desired outcome would have been for this charity not to receive Community Infrastructure funding?

    The same week there has been uproar over Labour giving nearly £18m of Community Infrastructure funding it levied from Quintain, back to Quintain - so they could build some steps?

    I'm astounded!

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