4 Oct 2011
Brent council came under fire today for “wasting” £70,533 on legal costs to defend its decision to close half of its libraries.
It is awaiting the result of a High Court battle where it is fighting to uphold its decision to close six libraries – Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton. A decision is expected this week.
Brent Liberal Democrat leader Paul Lorber, who is also a member of Brent SOS Libraries campaign, said: “This giant lawyer’s bill could have been avoided if Labour leader Ann John and her followers had been prepared to sit down and discuss working in partnership with the local community.
“If this money had been spent on libraries rather than lawyers it could have funded three years worth of new books for a threatened library. ”
He also called on the council to stop spending money on legal fees and instead find a way of keeping libraries open. Campaigners today accused council bosses of “throwing money down the drain”.
Brent SOS Libraries campaigner Samantha Warrington, 42, a mother-of-two from Preston, said: “It’s sad but it doesn’t surprise me… £70,000 is equal to an awful lot of books.”
Brent council today said that it was “regrettable” that it had been forced to spend so much money on legal fees but that it had taken “every step” to keep costs down. The Labour leader said: “Our Libraries Improvement Programme is designed to increase investment in Brent’s libraries by around £200,000 a year, so our libraries can open at weekends and in the evening, have more and better books, and a greater range of services.”
The Standard’s Save Our Libraries Campaign is supported by writers including Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pullman. An Evening With Esther Rantzen at St Gabriel’s Church in Cricklewood tomorrow at 7pm will raise money for the anti-closure campaign.