December 7 2013 Latest news:
Max Walters and Tara Brady
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Cllr Muhammed Butt will not be visiting the scene in Bathurst Gardens
The new leader of the council has admitted that he had no idea Kensal Rise library was going to be stripped of its contents this morning (Wednesday).
Cllr Muhammed Butt, who will step into the role formally this evening, told the Times he is trying to find out ‘exactly what is going on’ following today’s developments.
Angry campaigners are currently gathered outside the branch in Bathurst Gardens as removal men strip the Victorian building of its contents.
Security staff alongside police officers and Sue McKenzie, head of libraries at Brent Council, have been loading up removal vans with books and computers since around 7.30am.
Residents and members of the Friends of Kensal Rise Campaign (FOKR) have gathered outside the building in a desperate attempt to thwart the procedure and the police have been 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.
Margaret Bailey, a member of FOKR, said: “We are trying to be as strong minded as we can but there are children here and we don’t want people to get hurt.”
“We are appealing to Cllr Butt to do something about this.
“If he was a true leader he’d be down here now.”
However, the father-of-three, who was voted in as the new leader on Saturday, told the Times he would not be visiting the scene today.
He added: “I am in the process of trying to ascertain exactly what is going on but I am not the leader of the council yet and don’t become the leader until tomorrow so I need to work to find out why this is happening.
“I will however be willing to speak to the campaigners in the future about possibly moving forward with All Soul’s and the best way to progress with this.”
All Souls College recently told the Times they did not want ownership of the buildings and intended them to be used as libraries