May 24 2012 by Catherine McShane, Harrow Observer
Library building’s Victorian value
GALLIFORD Try have submitted applications for the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library Centre, which include an application for consent to demolish the 1894 library building.
Their planning agents, URS, have supplied detailed reports to support these, but some of the conclusions are misleading.
One example of this is their statement that the original library building has little architectural value because ‘the majority of the building dates from the 1980s’.
What they fail to say is that the sympathetic 1980s rebuilding on the south side of the Victorian library, where later additions were removed to make way for the present Library Centre, was undertaken so that the valuable and original 1894 frontage on to the High Road could be preserved.
Local residents and some councillors fought hard between 1982 and 1984 to save the original front, with its beautiful raised stucco work and iconic turret, as part of a building put to viable use.
They had seen the value of the building, both in its own right and as part of the late-Victorian streetscape of Willesden High Road, to themselves and for future generations.
Now we need to make sure Brent’s planners are not taken in by the glossy presentation of Galliford Try’s applications, and that they see the value of retaining the 1894 library building as a viable part of the new Cultural Centre.
You can comment on the plans at the Brent Planning website (www.brent.gov.uk/planning) searching via the reference numbers 12/1190 for the planning application or 12/1191 for the conservation area consent application (for the demolition).
All of the plans and supporting documents can be viewed online at this website by clicking on ‘full details’.
Comments or objections to the proposals can also be sent by email to the Planning Service case officer, Andy Bates, at email@example.com.
Library books will be distributed
I AM intrigued to hear that the books from the six closed libraries are to be distributed amongst those which will remain open.
Since the latest thing in Brent library practice is to remove half of the bookshelves (as in the Town Hall library) or to produce ‘Library Plus’ marvels with little low shelves (like Kingsbury), it’s a puzzle to see where they’re going to put all the books.
Both of these approaches drastically reduce the number of books available for readers, although some of them are displayed in a much prettier way, more like a bookshop.
But in compensation there are large areas for computer usage, children’s and even teenage sections, and plenty of DVDs and CDs for hire.
And wonderful plans are in the pipeline for more wonderful Libraries Plus and Cultural Centres like those planned for The Grandiose, Prestigious and Iconic New Town Hall and the wonderful Cultural and Educational Leisure Centre planned for Willesden in the building which some years back we spent some £8million in rebuilding while retaining the outside shell.
In a statement last October, Ann John (at that time council leader) said: “The programme specifically aims to implement a broad range of improvements to the current service for the benefit of Brent residents.
These include seven-days-a-week extended hours, outreach facilities, new equipment and improved study space. Under our proposals all residents will be within one-and-a-half miles of a new and improved library.”
Wasn’t it lovely in the old days, when Brent residents had six more libraries, and they were all full of books?
Hay Lane, Kingsbury
Call to leader: Let people run library
THE dramatic scenes outside Kensal Rise Library last week demonstrate how much local people value their library.
I appreciate that Councillor Muhammed Butt, the new leader of Brent Council may feel constrained by his predecessor’s decisions and under pressure from council officers, especially since he put up his hand to vote for library closures alongside Councillor Ann John and Councillor James Powney.
However, he is not required to make a ‘U-turn’. He does not have to change council policy (although that would be nice) or spend a single penny to reopen Kensal Rise Library. The request from local people is simple: ‘Let us run our library’.
All Mr Butt needs to do is to give support to local people and make it clear to All Soul’s College that Brent Council endorses the transfer of the running of Kensal Rise Library into the hands of Kensal Rise residents.
If Mr Butt is genuine when he promises a new style of approach this simple act of common sense will prove that he means what he says.
It is time to convert conciliatory words into clear and effective action for the good of the Kensal Rise community and the young people who need the local library.
COUNCILLOR SIMON GREEN
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Queen’s Park
Fifty per cent cut in train services
IT APPEARS that Chiltern Railways have struck another blow to Harrow residents.
Following on from fare increases of up to 13 per cent this January they are faced with ‘less for more’.
A 50 per cent reduction in train services at Northolt Park and Sudbury Hill is unacceptable.
Harrow Council will be standing up for our residents and seek a re-introduction of the half hourly service at the earliest opportunity.
COUNCILLOR PHILLIP O’DELL
Portfolio Holder Environment and Community Safety
Municipal waste takes precedence
IF ONLY Sudbury Hill Harrow station DID have a train every hour! (‘Watchdog alarmed at Chiltern rail cuts’, Observer, May 17).
It is still closed all weekend and the new Monday to Friday timetable includes several gaps of well over an hour – and one massive gap of two hours, when its service has to make way for a freight train carrying municipal waste.
Does this mean Chiltern regards its Sudbury passengers as less important than a load of rubbish?
(regular Sudbury Hill Harrow user)
It’s a shopping centre not Kasbah
WHAT is happening to St Ann’s Shopping Centre, St Ann’s Road? It’s beginning to look like the ‘old Kasbah in Cairo’.
Originally the council built two kiosks, one used by a shoe repairer and key cutter and the other by a greengrocer. Now there is a market stall sprawl making the place look untidy.
Why can’t the council build more small kiosks and rent them out to these people?
This way they can be contained in an enclosed area and not spread all over the place. It’s not a marketplace, it’s a shopping centre.
And another thing, how often are the rubbish bins emptied? They always appear to be full to the brim with rubbish spilling all over the floor.
Likeable buffoon, hopeless mayor
IN REPLY to Councillor Susan Hall’s diatribe about the fitness of London mayors (Observer Letters, May 17), I think you will find more mistakes were made by the present incumbent than the previous mayor.
It is only because the government bailed him out with more promised cash that he survives, but there again, what do you expect from a member of The Bullingdon Club?
What amazes me is the amount of deputy mayors he’s had, is this a title so he can pay them more? Boris is a likable buffoon but a hopeless mayor of the greatest city in the world.
Give us a mayor who the rest of the world looks up to.
Run or walk for homeless charity
LIKE many people in London I was wondering how I could make this my Olympic year, so as a sports fan, I’ve set up The Big Home 2012 fundraising event where people can run, walk or even skateboard their commute to raise money for homeless charity St Mungo’s.
I’ll be leading the way running and walking my 90-mile commute from Central London to Winchester – a staggering thought – and I would love it if readers of the Harrow and Wembley Observer could accomplish their own home run during the 2012 Games.
Whatever your age or fitness levels you’re welcome to join. Plus you can go the distance at your own pace. And when it comes to sponsorship, raise as little or as much money as you like.
Taking part in The Big Home Run 2012 will also be a great way of circumnavigating public transport and it might even inspire readers to kickstart a new fitness regime.
If people are interested, they can visit www.mungos.org/events/thebighomerun or call 020 8762 5582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or if they would simply like to donate they can do so via http://login.guess2give.com/event/seb_mayfield/782.
Making a donation involves a really fun twist where one lucky donor could win a cash prize.
Please join me and help create a positive legacy for homeless people in the capital.
The Big Home Run 2012
161 Hammersmith Road
London W6 8BS
Wear a gown and highlight illness
DRESSING Gown Day is a new fundraising event launched by Action for ME, the UK’s leading charity for people with the chronic, disabling illness ME and their carers.
We are asking schools, universities, shops and offices to get involved and help us raise awareness, and funds, for ME by paying to spend the day in their dressing gown.
It’s a fun event with a serious side, symbolising how thousands of people with ME are so debilitated by fatigue, pain and other very distressing symptoms that they can’t even get dressed or leave the house.
May is International ME Awareness Month, but you can hold a Dressing Gown Day at any time.
For an information pack, please email email@example.com or call 0117 930 7293.
SIR PETER SPENCER
Action for ME
Future town plan needs charisma
THOSE who plan the future of Harrow need to get out more.
Look around the suburbs and area of regeneration and see how exciting modern buildings and shopping precincts and creating the sort of environments people will wish to visit.
With the clearance of the 1960s eyesores in the Lyon Road Triangle, Harrow has the chance to create something worthwhile. Yet from the artist’s impressions in the Observer of what is proposed, it seems the same dead land that sanitised away much of Station Road’s character is still at work.
Where is the charisma, the flair? Just another crushingly dull exercise in cramming as much outdated slab-block mediocrity on to the site as possible! And at 14 floors high even more of Harrow’s present visual asset, the view of the Hill from the town, will be lost.
This sort of planning condemns Harrow to the sort of future few will envy.
Diabetes booklet to plan jubilee party
I AM sure that many of your readers are planning to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee with jubilee parties for family, friends and neighbours.
No matter what type of party, it means that there will be food and drinks to tempt people to overindulge. For your readers with diabetes, parties can be a challenge as to what to eat to fit in with their diet.
Some people may even avoid any party because they may know what they can’t eat, but not what they can.
For people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes watching that there is not an excess of fatty and sugary items is important but this is a special occasion, so our dietician has developed some special ideas for jubilee party food and drinks. She also points out that being as active as possible with dancing and sports helps to use up the calories and to moderate blood glucose levels.
So, whether organising a party or going to a party, we are happy to provide this party information to people free of charge.
We are also happy to send people our free booklet, Diabetes – Everyday Eating, which helps with day to day eating as it contains 28 days of menus of everyday, affordable meals, and much more.
Call IDDT on 01604 622 837, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to IDDT, PO Box 294, Northampton NN1 4XS.