Brent Council admits: library closures will hit young people

Members of Brent Youth Parliament

Members of Brent Youth Parliament

Brent Council has admitted that young people will be among those hit hardest by its proposals to close half the borough’s libraries. At a recent call-in meeting to examine the proposals, the council ceded that there is a severe overcrowding problem in Brent’s libraries and a lack of revision space during the exam period, and that this must be looked at.

Brent Youth Parliament’s chair proposed the following:

BYP comprises of 72 elected members who represent the 72,000 young people of our borough’s young people.

  • As a body, we understand that cuts do need to be made in the budget. However, cuts to libraries should be reconsidered, as they will have a detrimental effect on Brent’s educational standards and the young people you represent.
  • Around 50% of the libraries’ regular users are young people aged 19 and under – the group that has suffered most from central government cuts already
  • The sudden withdrawal of these services will hit this vulnerable group at a time when it is most needed.
  • Students who responded to BYP’s “Have Your Say” forms were deeply concerned about library closures and wanted us to make it a priority to keep them open.
  • Brent Town Hall, one of the libraries set to stay open, has seen overflow of study spaces for many years now. It is not acceptable to see young people studying on the stairs of the Town Hall.
  • My local library, Barham Park, has been packed throughout the Easter break with students and young people of all ages. The impact on young people is going to be very substantial
  • The Consultation at Brent Youth Parliament on 22nd February 2011 was ignored by the Head of Culture and Environment, who disregarded the views of young people on the day. In this meeting, the issue of study space for students was mentioned on numerous occasions – yet no proposal has been given as to how the impact on young people will be subsided.

Therefore, on behalf of Brent’s 72,000 young people, I would like the Scrutiny Committee to make the following recommendations to the Executive:

  1. The Executive to ensure that the existing Libraries or suitable alternative local premises continue to be available for young people throughout the 2011 exam period
  2. The Executive to look again at the implications and consequences of closing six libraries on young people living in the areas nearby
  3. The Executive to consider provision of facilities of access to computers and revision space during exam periods in subsequent years in those areas where libraries are being closed. In addition, the Executive should ensure that as far as possible young people are made aware of these facilities.

Since the establishment of the Youth Parliament in 2007, the borough’s youth have been encouraged to shape their communities. Please do not take away such a large chunk of these same communities without considering the impacts.

Councillor James Powney, who has spearheaded the plans to raze half the borough’s libraries, mocked Brent’s young people, dismissing their request for revision space during exams as “superfluous”.

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