Priya Shah’s reminiscences of growing up and reading at Preston Library could now only be a memory.
According to Brent Council’s Library Transformation programme, the Council decided to close six of the 12 libraries in the borough. Preston Library in Preston Road is among the ones on its deathbed along others in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Neasden, Cricklewood and Tokyngton.
The Council decided the closure of the six libraries in April, but locals have challenged the decision despite a high court judge dismissing the claims that it is “fundamentally flawed and unlawful.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Shah says of the Council’s decision, stating her determination to fight.
Standing outside the library, now boarded, with other locals, Shah is a part of the Preston Library Campaign, a part of the Brent SOS Library Campaign working to save the libraries.
“People think libraries are the soft touch, they’re the easy ones,” she says, adding, “ [Council thinks] no one uses them and so they can close. People do use them…they can afford the libraries and people are using them.”
The libraries, according to the Council, will help them save the £104 million that will help them improve the services of the remaining libraries.
Though the Council declined to comment on the issue, it’s press release cites “unsuitable locations,” and “badly in need of expensive and unaffordable repairs” as being the reason for closing the libraries.
The press release further states that the closure of these libraries will not affect the communities.
“Under our proposals all residents will be within one-and-a-half miles of a new and improved library.”
But locals disagree.
Doreen Gill, 71, frequently comes to stand outside the barricaded library and show her solidarity with others. Gill, who has been living in the area since 1946 says the closure of the Preston Library will affect the elderly.
“Old people used to come here to read and socialise. Where will they go now, since many of them are not able to take a bus to the closest library in Wembley?”
And to save their libraries, locals have raised more then 30,000 and collected 10,000 signatures, and countless messages on the boarded wall, to appeal the council in court that has been granted for November.
Along with his community, Counsellor for the Preston Ward, Harshadbhai Patel, believes that the Council’s and the court’s decision is wrong.
“We are expecting the decision will be in our favour,” he says.
Video produced and reported by Wendy Anstead, Stefania Barbaglio and Bibek Bhandari.