Labour’s report on Brent libraries has been dealt a damaging blow in The Spectator, as the national press continue to watch and scrutinise Brent Council and its upcoming decision on libraries in the borough. Toby Young writes:
You have to take your hat off to the Labour party spin machine. It has successfully propagated the myth that the government is directly responsible for the closure of local libraries.
Take the Kensal Rise Library in Queen’s Park. This fine public institution, which was opened by Mark Twain in 1900, is one of six libraries in the London Borough of Brent that’s been earmarked for closure. Needless to say, the Labour-controlled council blames these closures entirely on ‘the cuts’, claiming it has no choice but to shut down these much-loved libraries, given the amount by which the Department for Communities and Local Government has slashed its budget. ‘Don’t blame us,’ is the message coming out of the town hall. ‘Blame Eric Pickles.’
Clearly, this is yet another instance of a Labour council choosing to cut public services for purely political reasons. This cynical ploy is particularly inexcusable in the case of the Kensal Rise Library because there’s a well-organised group of local volunteers in Queen’s Park who’ve offered to take it over.
The Spectator goes on to slam Brent Council’s library consultation and report:
It reads like a parody of small-minded local government obstruction. First, it sets out the seven criteria by which all of the proposals are to be judged — and it goes without saying that none of the groups had the slightest awareness of these until now … Then it painstakingly goes through each of the proposals, including the one from the Friends of Kensal Rise Library, and dismisses them all on the grounds that they fail to comply with these criteria.
This is not an issue which will go away, and is causing significant damage to Brent and its council’s reputation. As residents continue to fight to save Kensal Rise Library, scrutiny by the national press will only continue to intensify. The Spectator calls Kensal Rise an “historic institution”. They’re right. It must be saved.