Oct 17 2012 By Hannah Bewley
A COUNCILLOR who was instrumental in the closure of six libraries has blamed campaigners for driving people away.
Labour councillor for Kensal Green James Powney wrote in his blog on Saturday October 13, titled Libraries Transformation Update, in response to why visit and issue figures fell after the closure of libraries: “A fourth reason that has been suggested to me, although it is not a provable statement either way, is that the huge negative publicity that the litigants generated in itself damaged library usage. Partly this would be through deterring the public, and partly by demoralising the staff. This may be true.”
Mr Powney analysed the recently released figures for issues and visits at all six of Brent’s libraries and compared these with last year.
It would appear there has been an increase in library usage in some of the sites, but these do not take into account the totals from last year when the borough had 12 libraries.
Campaigner Geraldine Cooke, who has been part of a hard-working team who have opened a volunteer library in Preston Road, said: “We are the ones opening libraries so people can have access to books, we have thousands of books which have been donated and which children devour.”
In the blog Mr Powney said: “The overall visits this September are about 1.5% down from September last year. I suspect that if I had said a year ago that Brent libraries would be only 1.5% down in visits with six libraries than with 12 I would have been disbelieved.”
However, if the visits from all the libraries are taken into account 135,840 used the service in September last year and 118,154 visited a library the same month this year, which equates to a 13 per cent decrease.
Mr Powney and Labour council leader Muhammed Butt were contacted for a comment but did not respond.