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New leader of the council pledges to speak to library supporters

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Campaigners have managed to stop Brent Council removing books from Kensal Rise Library.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, who will be sworn in as the new leader of Brent Council this evening, has promised the protesters to leave the books in the Victorian reading room for the rest of the day.

Margaret Bailey, member of charity Friends of Kensal Rise, said: “We have his assurance that nothing will be taken out of the library today.

“We have made inroads. I would be happy if we had his assurance that nothing will be taken until he has sat down and spoken with us but we haven’t had that yet.”

The protesters cheered as the vans which had came to collect the books early this morning drove off and Sue McKenzie, head of libraries at the council, left the building in Bathurst Gardens.

Residents have gathered outside the building all day in a desperate attempt to stop the removal of books.

Police were called to the scene as a precautionary measure.

The campaigners have been locked in battle with the council over the ownership of the buildings after it was closed and handed back to its original owners, All Souls College, in Oxford.

Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston, Tokyngton and Barham libraries were also closed to save the council £1million.

Cllr Butt said: “I am listening to the concerns and issues raised by the campaigners. I’m doing my best with a difficult situation. I have promised the campaigners I will be speaking to them. There has been a train of events which has taken place.

“It is difficult to stop the decision. As far as I am aware the reverter has been triggered and the library technically belongs All Souls College. It’s not my gift to give the library over to the campaigners.”

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