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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Another Cunning Plan from Cllr Paul Lorber

Cllr Paul Lorber is claiming to have yet another cunning plan on Brent Libraries.  As the Kilburn Times have characteristically failed to ask any questions about it, I thought I would give it a brief treatment.

The article claims that the cost would be only £400k, which is substantially below what the Council felt it saved (which was a gross figure in the region of £1 million).  Some of that £1 million was reinvested in, for instance, longer opening hours at Ealing Road, Wembley Library, Harlesden Library and Kilburn Library.  The new £400k figure also materially differed from the figures Cllr Lorber has quoted in previous schemes.

Clearly not a details man, Cllr Lorber gives us no information about integrating IT, book stock, training costs, rota management, building liabilities such as insurance and utility costs, locations of building, any form of process for assessing equality impacts or anything else.  There is also no detail on what parts of existing budgets he plans to cut (remember Cllr Lorber's Liberal Democrat/Tory coalition is planning to reduce Brent Council's budget by many millions more after the election).

This latest scheme follows a number of others.  These include:

A February 2011 proposal supposedly "fully costed" presented to the Wembley Observer.  It was never actually presented to the Council so we can have no idea if there ever was a proposal.

Downgrading Wembley Library.  This would not save any money, and would probably have cost more, so Cllr Lorber's support (and that of Brent Liberal Democrats) is rather odd.

A proposal to the 2011 Council budget meeting to delay all library closures by six months, whilst waiting to see if any funding would magically arrive.

A proposal presented to the 2011 Executive to surround Barham Park with advertising hoardings to pay for a continuing library.  This would probably have violated planning permission, the duties of the Barham Park charity, economic sense and many peoples' aesthetic sense.

A proposal at the 2012 Council budget to re-open six Brent libraries, supposedly at a cost of £600k, more than he proposes now.  I have suggested before his £600k proposals did not add up.  He then appeared to change the proposals part way through the meeting, which does not inspire confidence.

One is left with the impression that he is just leading people up the garden path again, as he has often done before.

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