Oct 17 2012 By Hannah Bewley
PEOPLE who were believed to be squatters are guarding the first library building which will be sold off by the council.
A number of people were seen coming and going from Tokyngton library and neighbours believed the building had been taken over by squatters.
However, Brent Council has confirmed that is has allowed "guardians" to move in to the building about six weeks ago ahead of putting the building on the market in a few weeks time.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "I have seen people coming and going over the past few weeks and all the windows have been covered up, I thought there were people squatting there. They look like they are using the library building and the football changing rooms at the back.”
The rumours started after people “moved in” to an empty library building in Friern Barnet and started running it as a community book-lending service after the council closed the official library. Members of the Occupy movement who are currently living in the building are fighting eviction proceedings with Barnet Council. However, the Tokyngton building in Monks Park, which was one of six closed by Brent Council in October last year, will be sold off in a few weeks the Observer can reveal.
The small library did not have the same level of outcry as others and it seems like the community will lose a library service for good.
Campaigner Andria Greaves said: “I don’t think any one is really aware they are selling this off. It is very unfair, the bottom line is that education opens doors and a library offers access to that. Most people in Tokyngton wouldn’t be able to travel to the other side of the borough, the nearest one is Ealing Road and that is so noisy I try to stay away. I think this signals the end of the line, I am very disgusted about this.”
Neasden library has also been taken over by new occupants Christ Embassy, a church group, which has been sub-letting the building from the council on Neasden Lane since June.
They have already converted the first floor into a room for services and are planning work on the ground floor.
Liberal Democrat councillor for the nearby Dollis Hill ward Alison Hopkins said: “People in the area have not been using other libraries since Neasden and Cricklewood closed, there is no alternative really close-by and people in that area are losing out.”
Brent Council allowed the buildings of Kensal Rise and Crickelwood to revert back to All Soul’s College, Oxford, for no cost, even though the buildings had been left to the community and campaign groups are hoping to set up volunteer services in the buildings. Preston library is being converted into extra classrooms for Preston Park Primary and tenants are being sought for the multi-use building which housed Barham library.