Playwright Alan Bennett criticises lack of government support as Primrose Hill Community Library opens

16:06 23 October 2012

Alan Bennett at the official opening of Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Alan Bennett at the official opening of Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

National treasure Alan Bennett heaped praise on campaigners for rescuing Primrose Hill Community Library from the scrapheap - but warned that generous communities should not be relied upon to save libraries across the country.

Primrose Hill Community Library's oldest and youngest members, Roman Haddon (front), seven, and Daphne Slater (back, left), cut the ribbon helped by Maureen Betts (back, middle) and Dame Joan Bakewell (back, right). Picture: Nigel SuttonPrimrose Hill Community Library's oldest and youngest members, Roman Haddon (front), seven, and Daphne Slater (back, left), cut the ribbon helped by Maureen Betts (back, middle) and Dame Joan Bakewell (back, right). Picture: Nigel Sutton

In what was a bitter sweet moment for Primrose Hill playwright Mr Bennett, he said he would not be content until councils and the government committed to keeping libraries open nationwide.

Speaking at the official opening of the library in Sharpleshall Street on Monday night (October 22), the 78-year-old History Boys playwright said: “It’s something that we can all be proud of and pleased about, but at the same time the real celebration will be the day that the local authority and the government realise and admit that libraries are not something that should depend on the efforts of people like us.

“They should be provided as a right in the way that education is provided and certainly that’s true round here and I look forward to that day when society, the policies and the difficulties of today which resulted in the closing of so many libraries have gone and libraries again flourish as once they did in the 19th century.

“That will be the day to really celebrate.”

Playwright Alan Bennett and journalist Dame Joan Bakewell at the official opening of Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel SuttonPlaywright Alan Bennett and journalist Dame Joan Bakewell at the official opening of Primrose Hill Community Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

More than 150 people packed into the library for its official opening and its youngest member Roman Haddon, six, was on hand to cut the red ribbon as oldest library member Daphne Slater, 82, looked on.

Roman, a science-mad pupil at Primrose Hill Primary School and nephew to novelist Mark Haddon, was the first user among more than 400 to be issued with a library card.

Mr Bennett said the most important thing was that the library, which opened in 1961, had been saved as a quiet place where children could come and read.

“The thing that would have been lost is a generation of readers in the future,” said Mr Bennett, who used to go on family trips to his local library in Yorkshire.

“The awful thing is that these efforts are necessary. We should not live in a society where you have to do this. This is something that should be done by the community services and it should come from the local authority and local government.

“They should not be dependent on private efforts.”

Patron Dame Joan Bakewell thanked the “well-heeled” of Primrose Hill for pledging more than £580,000 to save the library.

“Libraries are the life blood of ideas and they must not die,” she said. “It is deplorable that the policies that have led to this mean that Camden (Council) have withdrawn their support.”

She added: “We still have a way to go and we need more money. It’s not the end of the road. It’s the start of something, but it’s a huge landmark to have made it.”

Belsize Community Library, Keats Community Library and Primrose Hill Community Library were handed over to volunteers after town hall bosses said they could no longer afford to manage them.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

As a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing trying your best to scrape through to next week, that is NOT what you want to hear.

Read more

Provided of course, you exercise some careful creativity.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

The family to which Ebola belongs could be as old as 23 million years.

The gaming industry’s answer to the Oscars has dished out its annual awards.

Potential female candidates are already being prepared for the upcoming diocese vacancies in Southwell, Nottingham, Gloucester and Oxford.

Watch the moment the Shadow Chancellor got interrupted by a daring arachnid.

TOP Stories

Fri, 17:48
The man stole the bus from south-east London (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A double decker bus was stolen and taken for a rather long drive in south-east London, through picturesque villages, before being dumped in a bus stop - with £500 worth of damage.

Fri, 14:24
The 91-year-old gave the cyclist a wallop

After Baroness Sharples bragged about walloping a cyclist, London24’s cycling blogger AViewOfLondon has this to say...

Fri, 14:03
Police are keen to talk to this man who was seen leaving the building at around the time of the assault [Photograph from Metropolitan Police]

Police are hunting a pervert who pretended he was a plumber before sexually assaulting a schoolgirl in a Bethnal Green flat.

London Bloggers

Fri, 14:24
The 91-year-old gave the cyclist a wallop

After Baroness Sharples bragged about walloping a cyclist, London24’s cycling blogger AViewOfLondon has this to say...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The cast, including Josie Lawrence and Mike Myers

Simon Collins catches up with the improv impresarios, who despite being the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, have lost none of the razor-sharp wit:

Monday, September 1, 2014
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.