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Mar 16 2015

Library Closure – Harrow’s Decay Continues Under a Labour Council

library_computer_childHaving lost a hard-fought battle to save the Bob Lawrence – and other – libraries across the borough, from the savage cuts brought in by an administration incapable of caring for the residents it seeks to serve, the Bob Lawrence Library Campaign Team – who must be thanked for the hard work they’ve put in, for suffering the abuse from an ill-informed Cllr Barry Kendler, and for standing up and fighting for those of us too old, too busy, too vulnerable to do so for ourselves – have sent a final, and perhaps, closing note on their campaign. It wasn’t intended for publication, but it deserves nothing less:

We are extremely disappointed with the way things have panned out. The fact that residents views have been completely disregarded makes the outcome all the more difficult to accept especially since the Harrow Labour Administration has always projected itself as the “Listening” government.

The January issue of Harrow People Magazine quoted Cllr. Sue Anderson stating  “My job title reflects what this administration is all about – putting people’s views at the heart of what the council does. We will keep on doing that to ensure the local authority walks in step with our residents and the voluntary and community sector.” Cllr Sue Anderson.

Empty words and broken promises is what comes to mind.

15,000 signed petitions. 140 posters from school children. Open letter with 31 community leaders as signatories. Over 71% of respondent on the Take Part Consultation in favour of keeping libraries open. All pleading to keep 4 libraries from closing. If harrow labour council was truly walking in step with residents and their views, then these 4 libraries would not be closing its doors to the community come May 16th.

Many different options were presented to council. We are not convinced that these were given any serious consideration as they did not involve an open dialog. We presented  and there were no follow up questions or discussion digging deeper on any of the options. Surely if there was a vested interest in keeping the libraries open we would have entered into deeper two way discussion with the council. Any meetings were campaign team initiated.

We have found it hard to come to terms with the outcome of this process. We have fought hard and equipped the council with every possible reason and solution to keeping these libraries open.

The council is removing it’s connection to each of these communities. It has robbed this community of a social hub and pretty much isolated this community.

The community around Bob Lawrence Library has often been referred to as the forgotten part of Harrow borough. With the closure of the library as well as all the connectivity it offers, this community has in its truest sense become a forgotten part of the borough.

We will mourn the loss of this library, as will many of the other patrons who have considered this institution as their life line. I have had people cry in my arms upon reading about the imminent closure. 16 May is a Black Day for library services, when the shutters come down for the last time.

What will be of the the old women who sit by the window flipping through the magazine and books, what will be of the children who come to the three-times a week rhyme time, what will be of the school children who use the space to study, what will be of the people who don’t have access to computers or internet at home, what will be of the job seekers, what will be of the people who need the resources to build a better future, what will be of the picture of Cllr. Bob Lawrence that sits proudly at the entrance of the Bob Lawrence library. Our hearts bleed for them all.

We tried our best, but the odds were stacked up against us before we even started. It is now out of our hands. We can only hope that the Harrow Labour Council will look deep into their conscience, do the right thing for this very vulnerable and highly deprived community and reverse their decision.

We hope that the people who have followed this story are aware how unjustly the council has exercised its authority in terms of the future of library services in the borough. It feels like a local dictatorship in a country that prides itself as being a democratic 1st world country.

Our thanks go to the entire team for their tireless work.

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31 comments

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  1. F.D.Billson

    Add this decision to close the Bob Lawrence Library to all the other catastrophic decisions that have been made by this disastrous council. They are no better than vandals and are trying to direct the blame for all this upon cuts by the present Government so that a Labour Government will supercede them no matter who has to pay the price. In other words we the taxpaying residents are paying heavily for the party political politics of this god-foresaken administration.
    The utter nonsense spouted by Cllr Sue Anderson in that political publication ‘ Harrow People Magazine ‘ about walking in step with the residents and putting peoples’ views at heart is complete hypocritical piffle and has been shown to be by the recent actions of this council. They are not on the side of the residents and we will have many more terrible decisions whilst this council is allowed to run its havoc strewn course.
    One thing, they have been able to find the money to pay themselves a nice 2% rise in council allowances whilst pleading poverty . An absolute an absolute disgrace ! I dare say if there wasn’t a cap imposed on council tax rises by the Conservatives the increase would have been a lot worse. Small consolation !

    F.D.Billson

    1. richard ramirez

      people do you know that all the councils in the uk have signed up to agenda 21 whats coming next is an in house energy audit for all homes ask your councilors about that if they cant answer you they shouldn’t be where they are also please look up and read the report from iron mountain AND look up what the hell are they spraying in the sky normal contrail disappear in seconds chemtrails don’t please wake up my brothers and sisters.

  2. jack

    I have not given up fighting. I at the cabinet meeting Thursday asking further questions. As Churchill said we will fight them on th beaches.

    1. richard ramirez

      well said jack at least some people like yourself still have spirit bravo good for you keep up the good fight as no price is too high when it comes to ones personal freedom

  3. simon

    I live between North Harrow and Rayners Lane. Both my libraries will be closed. A valuable public service closed by a Labour council. I have three Labour councillors in my ward and I’d love to know how they voted.

    Is it true preschool day care centres are being closed because the council have withdrawn funding?

  4. Susan Hall

    Simon, all the Labour Councillors voted for the closures. Its a disgrace and will generally hit the poorest in Harrow

    1. richard ramirez

      and agenda 21 is at the bottom of it all you cant ignore it susan when smart meters are fitted in you and your families and start having aggressive cancers and all manor of health problems you were warned

  5. Someonewhocares

    Shocker: Councillors of *either* party are just *told* what to do by their ‘whips’!

    1. richard ramirez

      of course they do someone because they sell there souls for money or have been compromised by their vices and blackmailed why do you think cyril smith got away with it for so long why hasnt leon britton been charged and what did and does go on at dolphin square is just totally demonic but don’t worry people like sue hall wont go near issues like that let alone agenda 21 if i was you mate i would leave this country its a pox ridden rat hole full of corruption LIARS deceit and ungodly people who couldnt give a rats about their fellow man SAD SAD SAD

  6. richard ramirez

    they are ALL sell outs why wont susie answer on agenda 21?

  7. Someonewhocares

    Here is a more fundamental question
    ;
    Just how/why did Central Government decide we need to save £83m in the first case?

    I am serious – I have not seen any detailed rationale for this whatsoever.

    Councillor Hall – over to you!

  8. Someonewhocares

    Ok, it might be 44 pages long but this document explains the cuts quite well:

    http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Financial-sustainability-of-local-authorities-20141.pdf

    If a Council – any Council – has to make ‘savings’ (ie. cuts) of £20M/year then clearly ‘somethings got to give’, and these cuts came form CENTRAL Government.

  9. Susan Hall

    Truly amazing, ‘Councillor Hall – over to you’ I see from the above. The above being from someone who does not have the balls to put postings in their own name. Say whatever you like but I always answer as and when I can and always give a straight answer.

    Yes our Council and others are having to make large savings – why? Because the Labour Government made such terrible financial decisions that they left the Country almost bankrupt – by their own admission. Remember the note ‘ I’m afraid there is no money – good luck’ Liam Byrne wrote that, he was Labours Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Nobody should forget that Labours record on finance is abysmal.

    This also continues in the financial decisions made by Harrow Labours Council. They have removed money from street cleaning, park maintenance, park locking and of course our precious Libraries. (Not to mention the brown bin garden tax of £75) This truly amazes me as they love consultation yet take not one bit of notice of petitions, resident groups comments and resident unrest.

    The Bob Lawrence Library, as one example, it has a head petitioner who is non political and yet devoted to her Library, as are those who have campaigned. She acknowledges that it is the poorer families that will suffer if their Library closes. It is a archaic to think that ‘Labour’ are the party for the poor and the workers. They are not listening to any of you. They dont take any notice of you, the residents, the Council Tax payers. We Tories do listen and we know what the majority of you want. You want cleaner Streets, you want well kept, locked, parks and open spaces. You want an end to ‘beds in sheds’ you want a safe environment and you want your Libraries for those less fortunate than others to enjoy and use. How would we Tories fund that then. Well we proved when we were in charge last year for 8 months supported by the Independent Labour group that we would do all those things by cutting bureaucracy within the Council. We proved that we could do all those things and freeze Council Tax and we proved that we could do all this and still bring in an underspend of 13.5 million pounds. Sound financial management is essential for front line services and the well being in so many different ways of our residents. I would urge all of you to remember that on MaY 7th when I hope you will be persuaded to support Bob Blackman in Harrow East and Hannah David in Harrow West. We need a strong Financial future as it affects us all. Without sound financial management, whether it be the Council or the Government we cannot afford the things our residents require and deserve.

    1. richard ramirez

      nice rant its a pity that you cant or wont respond to my questions about agenda 21 which means you susan dont have the balls to answer me or are totally complicit with this evil plan if and when you find said cajones come back to me

  10. s

    Pity about your initial cheap ‘taunt’ Cllr. Hall, but yes you *have* responded, even though you simply could not resist the temptation to turn it all into a ‘Party Political Broadcast’ of course could you?

    In fact whilst waiting for your reply I did some more useful research instead; The link above from the Institute of Fiscal Studies makes interesting reading if you have the time; Similarly Googling ‘ Eric Pickles DCLG ’ is very revealing – as practically all industry experts believe the DCLG have no real idea what effect the cuts THEY are imposing will have on us – And these DCLG cuts have been happening since 2010-2011 of course, so libraries have actually been closing since then.

    Back then a cut of 2% was imposed on us by Central Government:

    http://www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk/indicators/topics/11-services/reduction-in-borough-budgets/

    The question remains why the cuts imposed on us are now so high though?

    Now, coming back to your political issues, here are the ‘shocking’ headlines:

    “ ‘New’ Government blames the previous one for the poor ‘State of the Economy’.. and (after a full term) states ‘it will need one or two more full terms in office to rectify the damage’. ”

    – Ah, if only we were all so stupid as to actually believe it is really that simple!

  11. Someonewhocares

    A suggestion however – perhaps if you somehow did actually draw up those (undisclosed) budget plans for Harrow -with a claimed £13.5 underspend- then you should immediately sit down with Pickles and Osborne and show THEM how they can run the economy without THEIR cuts, too?

    (By the way whilst you are down there chatting with George and Eric could you also tell them that we have ALL noticed that giving tax breaks whist making cuts elsewhere is called ‘manipulation’, and we are not stupid about that either?)

    For what it is worth I have little interest in all the ‘party politics’, just the facts, but unfortunately politicians frequently do seem to have problems with these!

  12. Someonewhocares

    Meanwhile back nearer home:

    It would assist you greatly to stop harking on about your 8 months’ in office’; However we are all grateful that your association with the so-called ‘Independent Labour Group’ helped cause their eradication however.

    Bob Blackman? Are you serious? You mean that idiot on the ‘gravy train’ who seems to think it is OK to base travelling expenses on ‘taking the scenic route’ (and we won’t notice)?

    Hannah David seems OK but do we really want to lose an experienced (and no doubt overworked) Doctor in order to gain an inexperienced MP?

    1. simon

      Hannah David isn’t a doctor – but the previous Tory candidate (in 2010) was, as I recall.

      1. Someonewhocars

        Correct, see further down! previous Candidate was Rachel Joyce, later de-selected due to a ‘re-tweeting’ incident

  13. Someonewhocares

    In fact the IFS study mentioned is here:

    http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/7617

    I had actually posted this up in up on the “£75 Bin etc” thread!

  14. Susan Hall

    1. The underspend was not a boast, it was a fact – Labour underspent by over £10m the year before. Labour’s finance spokesman called it a ‘golden legacy’ back then. Harrow Council therefore has a record of under spending, which is why service cuts on this level are baffling.

    2. Hillingdon has just finished a £10m refurbishment of all it’s libraries because that’s how they chose to spend money. In Harrow, they’re being closed, and it’s well publicised how Labour are spending money in Harrow. It’s a question of priorities.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Ah yes, almost a “proper ‘politician’s’ answer”: Forget all those important DCLG issues and questions, focus on ‘self’ instead – and start with a ‘misquote’!

      I did not use the word ‘boast; you did. The first problem here is that ‘your budget’ was never actually published in the appropriate and necessary details, was it? Perhaps then the phrase ‘UNPROVEN underspend’ would be better? The second problem is that due to the aforementioned DCLG Cuts we are faced with a potential shortfall of £20M/year and it is extremely naïve to believe or imply that you -or any other Councillor for that matter- could somehow easily ‘absorb’ these: Again ‘SOMETHINGS got to give’ and we all know that.

      Clearly you did not refer to those links I posted up – but why not check with Eric Pickles/DCLG and ask *exactly* why those CENTRAL Government cuts were imposed?

  15. promissor

    Someoneswhocares – Hannah David isn’t a doctor. maybe you should learn some more about candidates and politicians before forming an opinion?

    1. Someonewhocares

      Yes, quite right! An easy to make a mistake though based on those earlier press releases -economical with the facts- that indicated she ‘ran a small practice’. I now note that this was later refined to her being ‘a non-practising solicitor now specialising in Property Law’ and then later again as ‘running a small business’. Either way there is probably very little candidate data available to form an opinion so Ms, David remains an ‘unknown quantity’: Plenty of the standard ‘photo-opportunities’ in the press and her flyers of course but what has she actually done for Harrow? Has SHE campaigned to keep the Libraries open for example? If so we missed that too.

      1. Someonewhocares

        As suggested by ‘promissor’ I did some better research this lunchtime: Hannah D. was a Councillor in Hertsmere; Gave it up to run as an MP: Owner of a Kosher Restaurant in Borehamwood; Lives nearby: Also doing a Master’s degree; Has 3 kids. Lots more on the interweb; Still don’t know why I had to look on the web to find out all this though! Accordingly I don’t really have any opinion -either way- yet.

        Incidentally ‘promissor’ as you did not comment on it I assume my criticisms of Bob Blackman are accurate then?

        1. richard ramirez

          well said bravo sir

        2. promissor

          That Bob Blackman filed expenses that were inaccurate is a matter of public record. Buy him a calculator for the next term. I disagree with the designations that you attached to him. In my opinion, Bob is supportive of resident causes and got it spot on national and international affairs.

          1. Someonewhocares

            Ah yes, but those ‘inaccurate’ expense claims are just the tip of the iceberg of course:

            http://bobblackmanmp.info/bob.html

  16. Someonewhocares

    -Also did some research on Libraries closing since 2011:-
    http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/tabout-public-libraries-news/news-topics

    -plus some of the effects of ‘privatisaion’/outsourcing these:
    http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/campaigning/privatized-libraries-outsourcing-library-services/carillion-and-libraries

    So much for the ‘importance of education’ to Councils then? Overall it seems some of these Libraries can at least be saved if volunteers can be found to maintain them. Sadly even though these establishments then cost much less to run the Council Tax does not reduce.

  17. Someonewhocares

    -and for anyone interested in the details of these Community-Run libraries:

    http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/campaigning/volunteer-run-libraries

    Their ‘Pros’, ‘Cons’ and ‘Practicalities’ make ‘interesting’ reading too!

  18. richard ramirez

    i see now that im being censored i didnt swear or insult anybody paul just tried to raise an important issue about agenda 21 and susan hall it looks like you are not impartial as i thought a lot of things make sense now thanks for being so brave well have fun when tshtf buddy

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