|Photo: Lorraine Skinner|
The film is notable for the militant primary school children spontaneously voicing their opinions about the library at the beginning of the clip.
|Photo: Lorraine Skinner|
The night raid was a shameful episode, one that will win the council no friends, either within or without the borough. It is indeed difficult to imagine councillors and officers planning so nefarious an act: did they do so behind closed doors, at dead of light, speaking only in whispers as they plotted?Focusing on the fact that the new leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt, claims he did not know about the raid they say:
His embarrassment must be profound, since just a few days earlier he had promised that the library's books would remain in place for the time being. Perhaps it is time for him to exert his newly-won authority and hold someone accountable for this brazen breach of trust, before he is made to look like a fool again.HEAR! HEAR!
Sadly, it seems futile to add that the council's reputation has been damaged. When it comes to the borough's libraries, Brent seems content to behave in a way that leaves it with no reputation to preserve.In it heartening to have a local newspaper which stands in solidarity with the community against a council that attacks those it was elected to serve.
The College has of course been made aware of the “dawn raid” to which you refer.
It is indeed very sad that the Council has closed the library. This is something we made clear to the Council would trigger a reverter, thereby resulting in the freehold coming back to the College, something our Fellows of the early 20th century never imagined would have happened.
We had hoped the Council might keep the library open, and encouraged them to discuss with the Friends of Kensal Rise Library that possibility.
At present, we have no “exact plans”. On all property-related matters, however, we are advised by professional advisers. Some time ago we advised the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to meet with these advisers to discuss what might happen if the site were to revert to our ownership, and I know that at least one meeting has taken place between them.
Yours faithfully,Tom SeamanFellow and Estates Bursar
The leader of Brent council, Mohammed Butt, told campaigners he did not order the overnight removals and was not informed the clearance was happening until a couple of hours before council workers moved in.
"The decision to empty the building had been made before I took over the leadership and the go ahead was made by the police at that time on the basis of public safety concerns," he said. He added that his IT system had failed at home and that he had not found out about the removal until midnight last night.
But he stood by the decision to remove the items, saying they had been left in the building for months and would have begun to deteriorate had they remained.
He said the council's solicitors and those acting for All Souls College, Oxford, said the library building had now reverted to the college. He hoped All Souls would return the building to the use for which it was intended.
I grew up in an area where you didn’t vote Labour- you were Labour. As I became politically aware in the mid to late nineteen sixties, for all its flaws, we had an idea what Labour was about. It meant public service. It meant hospitals and schools that were free at the point of use. It meant libraries and swimming pools and municipal socialism.
Compare this hard-won, long-fashioned identity with the actions of Brent’s Labour council, skulking into Kensal Rise library in the early hours of the morning to strip it bare. I have written to Labour leader Ed Miliband asking him to condemn the council’s actions.
The shadow Culture Secretary Dan Jarvis was well received at the Speak up for Libraries rally in March for asking failed Culture Minister Ed Vaizey if he was a champion for libraries. That question will look like double standards if the Labour leadership fails to distance itself from this irresponsible act of cultural vandalism.
The philistinism of unscrewing the brass plaque remembering Mark Twain from its wall in the middle of the night, would horrify anyone who still recalls Labour’s founding mission to share education, knowledge and hope with the people. We will continue to fight for our library.
The library is now an unlibrary, in the way that people became unpersons in the darkest days of the Soviet Union. I hope they took the titles of the books off as well. Removing unbooks from an unlibrary – who could possibly object?
In a meeting with campaigners last week, the new leader of the council, Muhammad Butt promised that the murals and furniture would not be taken.
We asked him to hold off stripping the library until he had organised a meeting with All Souls College, the council and ourselves.
This action this morning is proof that the council had no intention of trying to ensure that the reverter on the library had not been triggered.
Cllr Mo Butt said he wanted to listen to the community, engage with them.
This is how he listens. By taking this action he has jeopardised the ability of this community to run this library.
We may be finished with Brent council but our campaign continues. We will not let their cowardly, middle of the night plundering defeat us.
Cllr Butt's words to us are worse than meaningless.
They reveal what a cowardly, conniving, bunch of dishonest panhandlers they are, but what else would you expect in the Banana Republic of Brent?
Dear Parents/CarersMembers of the National Union of Teachers at Alperton Community School will be taking strike action on Thursday 31st May 2012. This is as a result of the school’s Governing body voting on Tuesday 22nd May 2012 to become an Academy.We ask for your support for our action and want to explain briefly why we are doing this.
Academies are publicly funded but privately run schools outside of the Local Authority. The NUT, in fact all education unions and the TUC, are opposed to schools being run in this way and believe that this Government wants to privatise the management of education as they do with, for example, the NHS, Royal Mail and prisons.Even though Alperton has applied to become a ‘Co-operative’ Academy, there is no evidence that Academies benefit pupils and no evidence that they get better examination results. The teachers are concerned for the future of all students and staff in all schools that change to Academies.The Government has overspent on converting academies and free schools by £600 million. There is no guarantee that the short term 'bribe' to get schools to become academies will continue, rather the reverse. All schools and academies will receive the same funding from April next year. In fact there has been overpayment of more than £120 million to academies, some having to pay this back by July. The first for profit company has been agreed to run a free school in Suffolk. Others will follow.Members of staff at the school, both teachers and non teachers have voted by a large majority in a secret ballot against Academy status and the Chair of Governors has acknowledged that there is no ‘consensus’ amongst the different stakeholders. As a parent you may have been given a letter by your child asking you to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but there has not really been any attempt to provide you with both sides of the argument.Teachers and staff at the school work incredibly hard to achieve the best results for students attending the school. Teachers do not decide to take strike action lightly.
We strongly urge the Governing Body of the school to reconsider its application to become a Cooperative Academy and to undertake a thorough and much longer consultation, with parents and carers being allowed fully to hear both sides of the argument before having their say.
Obviously, we are concerned about the extent of Cllr Butt's goodwill. He may hope to fob us off with bland reassurances while offering nothing concrete. He may also hope he can shift blame for the loss of the library onto All Souls if they refuse a meeting, or if they resist a compromise arrangement. Clearly his main concern is to take the political heat out of an issue that has caused the Council huge problems and a lot of bad publicity.
Cllr Butt and other councillors may now regret how the library closures and community aspirations have been handled, and they are obviously nervous about the pubic perception of the council and would like to change that, but if this new 'support' for us is simply a devious attempt to achieve 'good press' we will not be happy about being used in this way and this community will be very angry if this is the case.So we do wonder if this is what the meeting with councillors was all about - damage limitation for the very bad public image that they have created for themselves and an attempt at co-opting us to help with its restoration, because, after all, we left that meeting empty handed.
|Outside Brent Town Hall tonight|
|Have they learnt anything post AJ?|
|Councillor Ketan Sheth||Chair|
|Councillor Mary Daly||Vice-Chair|
|Councillor Abdi Aden||Committee Member|
|Councillor Eddie Baker||Committee Member|
|Councillor Mark Cummins||Committee Member|
|Councillor Sami Hashmi||Committee Member|
|Councillor Ann John OBE||Committee Member|
|Councillor Chandubhai J Patel||Committee Member|
|Councillor Ramesh Patel||Committee Member|
|Councillor Krupa Sheth||Committee Member|
|Councillor Harbhajan Singh||Committee Member|
I was very dismayed to read the article entitled, “Financial scandal continues to plague Brent Council” that appeared in the TES on 4 May, accusing Brent Council of being negligent in its duty to oversee school finances robustly and effectively.
Brent Council takes its role in ensuring sound financial management in schools very seriously and takes firm action against schools whenever there is evidence of it taking place.
In the case of Malorees Primary School, a thorough audit of the school identified that a number of improvements in financial management were necessary and the current head teacher is actively engaged on making these changes.
Brent has over 80 schools which receive an audit on a two or three year basis. It would be impossible within current resources to audit every school each year. Auditing schools on a rolling programme basis, so that each one is audited every two to three years, is very normal within local authorities and Brent does more than most in relation to school audits and has a very detailed audit brief.
In fact, the very detailed nature of our audit brief is precisely why Brent has managed to uncover these, thankfully rare examples of financial mismanagement that have occurred in the four schools your article mentions, over a fairly long period of time.
Schools have a duty to monitor their financial position on an on-going basis and this can throw up potential overspends that could worsen in the future unless corrective action is taken. In the case of Malorees School, the current head teacher has identified potential issues and is working proactively with Brent Council to take decisive action now to ensure that any potential problems are averted in the future.
Whenever irregularities occur we do not attempt to conceal them but are open and transparent at all times about our investigations and provide appropriate support to schools so that corrective action can be taken.
Dr Krutika Pau
Director of Children and Families
To find out more about the recent magnificent events at Kensal Rise library go to the great I Spy In Queen's Park blog HEREAt its May AGM, Queen’s Park Labour agreed a motion supporting the new leader of Brent Council, Cllr. Muhammed Butt, to meet with Kensal Rise Library campaigners and All Souls College to see if the building can be re-opened as a reading room under community management.The petition above states that:
We welcome the pledge made by the new Leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt, to host a summit with All Souls College and campaigners who are looking to take over the running of Kensal Rise Library building .
We welcome the proposal for Brent Council to use Ward Based Working money to enable the building to be refurbished and run as a community facility
We urge All Souls College, ( an Oxford college that has an endowment of over £230 million and owns the building ) to support this by offering the building on a rent free basis
In addition to signing this petition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group has joined Brent Fightback and Brent Trades Council in opposition to what it calls “Brent Council's Council Tax on free speech.”Brent Council plans to institute licensing of organisations other than charities and political parties that deliver leaflets in the Borough of Brent. “This is not only an attack on free speech,” said Alan Wheatley, a spokesperson for the group. “It is also a way for despotic local and central government to bury disclosure of how widespread oppressive measures such as the sanctioning of benefit claimants actually are.”“The Council say that they do not want the reputation of the Borough of Brent tarnished by littering over the time of the Olympics. As usual, the Council has its priorities wrong while at the same time it is throwing people in South Kilburn onto the street and central government's attacks on poor people exacerbate the desolation and isolation that come with poverty.“The Olympics serve as a branding platform for global corporations such as McDonalds that are notorious for shoddy employment practices and for product that leaves loads of street litter. Our leaflets, by contrast, help counteract the desolation and isolation that vulnerable benefit claimants experience via Kilburn Jobcentre and the JobCentre Plus network. Our leafleters are not paid, and to make our resources stretch further, we display our leaflets rather than thrust them under people's noses. People ask us for the leaflets that tell of our weekly meetings at Kingsgate Community Centre on the Camden side of Kilburn, and more. Further, people who attend our meetings who have had bad treatment at the jobcentre and/or through the testing procedures of Atos Healthcare that reduce the number of disability benefit claimants without curing them of their ailments, feel less inclined to throw themselves under a bus.“We know of people who have won their tribunals for entitlement to Employment & Support Allowance and had but a month in which to enjoy their back money before dying in this the year of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. The wait for a tribunal is about a year these days. Serial re-testing of claimants adds to their stress. The Royal Family, who cost the taxpayer much more per head, are comparatively in glowing heath.“Through the invitation to our meetings that our leaflets represent, people who have been subjected to bullying that goes through the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ministers at the Department for Work & Pensions begin to feel better about themselves.“Brent Council's proposed daily leaflet licensing fee of £75 is greater than the sum total of £67.50 weekly Jobseekers Allowance plus £5 per week earnings disregard for a single person aged over 25. That fee would hit us and our members hard,” s/he said. “Non-claimants generally remain blithely ignorant of the facts of how low state benefits are, and the fact that the £5 per week 'earnings disregard' has remained unchanged since 1988, but our leaflets help to set the record straight about that and the sanctions against claimants that are now routine.”Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group meets every Thursday at Kingsgate Community Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JH from 3pm to 5pm. With a dearth of such groups around London, KUWG helps benefit claimants in Brent and Camden and beyond to the help they need, when they need it.
I have regularly leafleted in Brent on Party political issues during elections, but also at other times on other issues such as pollution from Waste incineration, the dangers of nuclear waste being transported through the borough and to promote events such as public meetings about Climate Change. Such issues are not always well covered in the media and often people can only be made aware of their possible local impact through leafleting. None of the organisations that I have campaigned for are financially wealthy or represent profit making commercial concerns. Leafleting is often the only way for minorities and minority causes to be brought to public attention. The current proposed charges would place even this method of communication beyond the financial means of some groups, especially groups of unemployed people whose limited income would make leafleting charges unpayable.Murry also drew attention to the ambiguities around definitions and concluded that there were surely better ways keeping the borough clean and tidy other than restricting citizens' freedoms.
Dear Mo,Thank you for your telephone call of 9 May 2012 in which you invited me to vote for you as Leader of the Council at the Brent Labour Party hustings on 10 May.As you know I am opposed to the Brent Labour Group record over the last two years of implementing the Tory /Lib Dem government cuts and thus severely damaging the life prospects of many of the most vulnerable people in Brent. Naturally I was anxious to know how you would change matters and specifically how you would propose to make the Tory/Lib Dem cuts you made clear you are committed to over the next two yearsI was pleased to hear your response on the question of libraries which I recorded.You said'I feel we handled libraries very badly.I always wanted to consider partnership with community groups as Camden Council has done and was blocked by Ann John who insisted we had to be seen to be backing officers and closing the six libraries.This will change if I am Leader.'On future budget cuts you said'We have far too many senior officers in Brent ,a record number of Directors on very high pay and they all build empires of Assistant Directors.I think we could save £3 million a year on these costs by 2015 'Whilst I do not wholly agree with these two proposals I did concede that they represented progress from the intransigence and hostility to community groups displayed by Ann John and senior officers over the last two years .As promised I advised Labour Party members I know of your views and asked them to consider if the changes you promised were sufficient to enable them to vote for you as Leader.You have become Leader of Brent Council at a time when working people across Europe are realising that the disastrous policy of austerity is leading to impoverishment and misery everywhere.Voters in France and Greece have realised that the solutions of cuts in services and basic benefits and pensions are incapable of creating jobs and protecting a reasonable standard of living for working people.In Brent we have seen the extraordinary GLA vote in which Labour heavily defeated the Lib Dems in every single ward of Brent Central - a great opportunity exists for us to remove Sarah Teather and cuts agenda at the next General Election.You will need to be resolute in challenging Brent Council officers on every aspect of their work.In particular Gareth Daniel,Chief Executive, must be reigned in and told to stop spreading government cuts propaganda to Brent Council staff.I am sure that the local newspaper, the Brent and Kilburn Times, has misquoted you in stating that you now support library closures and the matter is closed. I do not believe that you would have completely reversed the promises you made to Party members during your leadership campaign nine days ago.I know that Brent SOS Libraries Campaign have written to you asking for an urgent meeting and I look forward to discussing this issue with you then.Labour should be embracing local campaigners not treating them with disdain.On a wider programme Brent Fightback want to work with Brent Labour Council in opposing Tory/Lib Dem cuts.We have also requested a meeting to discuss how to work together to resist NHS Cuts such as the closure of Central Middlesex hospital as well as local government cuts.I look forward to meeting you to discuss further co-operationBest wishesGraham Durham
Scrutiny is the mechanism by which the Executive is held publicly to account. Together, the scrutiny and overview functions have the capacity to give non- Executive Members a significant opportunity to influence the proposals of the Executive and to probe into the impact of policy decisions on the Borough. The Call In Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets as and when required to consider any matter “called in”, in accordance with Standing Orders and to make recommendations thereon.Out of the last 12 committee meetings timetabled only three have actually been held Yesterday the committee met to discuss the Call In of the Executive's proposals to license leafleting in the borough.
....engage with our councillors, especially between the front bench and the back benchers - get them involved in the decision making process so everyone has an input and also I want to have more engagement with out residents and the electorate, listen to them rather than just sort of blindly defending our decisions.Helga as a member of the old guard clearly hasn't got the message. Shafique Choudhary the new Chief Whip was in the public seats: perhaps he should have a word.
|Defending Kensal Rise Library yesterday|
Councillor Jim Moher strongly denies any kind of involvement in the selection process for the Leader Brent Council. He is adamant that the information revealed by BNCTV NorthWest London in our article “Forward Together But Who Is Behind Ann John’s Deposition?”, 15/05/12, is not true. He also feels that it might be damaging to his reputation, which we think should not be regarded as such.
It is only fair to say that the information included in the article stating that “A source within Brent Council has told BNCTV that Councillors Jim and Ruth Moher could be the people who played major part in this selection process” should not be regarded as a valid point. Although playing part in a selection process might not be bad in itself, regardless of any conspiracy theories one might think about, we would not want Cllrs Jim and Ruth Moher feel bad about it.
We are more than happy to clarify this.
On several occasions, speaking with and interviewing both Jim and Ruth Moher, they always came across as nice and honest people and we strongly believe that.
The selection process for the Leader of Brent Council, as put by the new Council Leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt should only be regarded as “purely democratic” process.