Feb 15 2012 By Jessica Thompson
CHAOS broke out at a council meeting this week as it was agreed Brent’s closed libraries would not be used during the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library Centre.
Around 40 residents packed into the meeting of Brent Council’s executive on Monday to make their voices heard on the centre in High Road, Willesden Green.
The majority wanted to see the closed libraries in Neasden, Cricklewood and Kensal Rise used while Willesden Green Library Centre is rebuilt over an 18-month period, even offering voluntary support to run the facilities.
There was also anger that Willesden Green Bookshop is being turfed out of its premises at the centre and will not be given space in the new cultural hub.
Gill Wood, who was given five minutes, told the meeting: “We are losing a building of historical interest, a bookshop with obvious benefits, the only open space on the High Road for markets and other events and gaining office space and a cafe we don’t want. It feels like a done deal and a fait accomplis, we want our voices heard.”
Locals also claimed they were ‘not fully consulted’ on the plans with many saying they only found out through neighbours or friends.
Some of those in the public gallery were ordered to stop shouting as they heckled councillors who were trying to answer their questions, with some branding the situation as ‘hopeless’.
Council leader Ann John tried to appease the concerns of residents, saying there would be meeting rooms in the new centre and highlighting the dilapidated state of the building, hence the need for it to be completely redeveloped.
The executive gave the green light to a recommendation provide library functions from Grange Road, which is next door to the library centre, and another unconfirmed location in the heart of Willesden Green.
Dr Ishami Salpadoru, who lives locally, said after the meeting: “It was pretty predictable and disappointing that the council would not open up the conversation and make changes to their proposals.”
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