Nov 9 2011 By David Baker
AS BRENT library campaigners prepare for their case to be heard at the Court of Appeal on Thursday, council bosses have been accused of misleading residents about distances to their service.
Brent SOS (Save Our Six) Libraries campaigners failed to have the decision to close six of the borough’s 12 libraries as unlawful, but will try to get the decision overturned at the Court of Appeal today and tomorrow (Friday).
Some 60 campaigners walked from South Kenton Tube station to their nearest Brent library, in Preston Road, on Saturday to show the distance some library users will have to walk after the closures.
Campaigner Samantha Warrington said: “We did the walk because we wanted to show just how difficult it is to get to our nearest library.
“It was just over 2.2 miles, far longer than the 1.5 miles the council has been telling us our nearest library was and it was very difficult for someone of the older people and those with children that came with us. They have always said it was a 1.5 mile distance but having walked it, it definitely isn't.”
The council’s director of customer and community engagement apologised to one of the campaigners, admitting in an email that the 1.5mile distance stated was an ‘error’.
She wrote: “Apologies for the error. The information about the 1.5 mile distance that residents would need to travel to a library was provided by the Library service. An assumption was wrongly made that this meantone of the council’s remaining libraries, rather than a library in the vicinity.”
However, Brent Council maintains it has never misled the public about the distance and insists the 1.5 miles is correct – when libraries in other boroughs are taken in to consideration.
A spokesman said: “It is complete nonsense that the council has been misleading anyone about the distance to a library. It’s true that everyone living in the borough of Brent is no more than a mile and a half from a library either in Brent or in a neighbouring borough.”
In light of the court hearing, Brent Council announced that plans to approve the rebuilding of Willesden Green Library Centre will be delayed until December.
The move would close the centre for up to two years while a smaller temporary site would be used in its place, but not at a closed library.