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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Where is the New Brent Library Strategy?

Curious to see that Brent Council's Forward Plan still has no item on libraries.  The Libraries Transformation Project, which was effectively the Council's strategy from 2011 until now, has been completed with the opening of Willesden Library.  Officers should be given political direction on the long term future of the service so that they can plan service development, including whatever cuts councillors decide to make to the libraries budget.

The omission is curious, as the Budget included proposals to spin off libraries in some sort of undefined form.  Full scale privatisation would probably be politically controversial, and possibly technically difficult.  Certainly I think separating out the co-located libraries at Harlesden, Willesden and Wembley strikes me as a tricky issue.

The whole design of these three libraries is based on blurring the distinction between the library and the co-located service.  For example at Willesden Library, you have to go through the library to reach the Musuem, archives, one stop shop, art gallery and meeting rooms.  A new arms length arrangement goes in the opposite direction of trying to separate everything out again.

It reads to me as a line put in the budget by someone for financial reasons without really understanding how Brent Library services work. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Brawl in Tubbs Road

Reports of a massive night time brawl in Tubbs Road.  Boris Johnson's massive cuts to local police in Brent and across London are hardly going to help deal with this sort of thing.  Andy Burnham has written to Theresa May to think again on the police cuts.  Lets hope she listens. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Kensal Green By Election

Kensal Green is now gearing up for a by election following the sad death of Cllr Dan Filson.  There are five candidates standing, including what I think is the first ever UKIP candidate to stand in Kensal Green.  Only two candidates _ Labour and Liberal Democrat _ actually live in the ward.  Polling Day will be 17 December. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Furness School Academisation

It appears that Furness primary school is drifting towards academy status.  I am not sure whether this is supposed to benefit the school or is merely a consequence of its linkage to Oakington Manor School.  Either way it doesn't seem satisfactory.

As I have pointed out before, the widespread conversion of schools into academies is making life impossible for local authorities.  They retain the responsibility for providing school places, but have almost no powers to create them.  They can't build new schools unless they create new academies, and they can't force an existing academy to take pupils.  If the academy fails financially (as some have) the local authority is left to pick up the pieces.

Brent Council sought to get around this by ensuring that new academies be part of the Co-operative network of schools.  Despite this being the official Brent Council policy, the Council appears not to be implementing it.  It is the closest that, under the existing government, we can get to the Labour Party's official policy of having schools under local authority control

I find it quirte baffling that the Council is not pursuing its duly passed policy.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

New Exhibtion at Willesden Library

Willesden Library's gallery has a new exhibition called Déjà Vu.  I think it is greatly to the credit of the officers concerned, that this kind of project is still going forward despite the financial crisis.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Longer Library Opening Hours

No one seems to have noticed that, at a time when most authorities are reducing library hours as the only alternative to closure, Brent have extended them even further.  Seven day opening was introduced at all Brent libraries late in 2012, but now Wembley and Willesden Libraries open not from noon as in the other cases, but from 10am.