Kensal Rise Library to be sold or rented out after Brent council's 3am raid to strip it of books


A library building, first handed to the local community by Mark Twain more than one hundred years ago, will be put on the market after the council stripped the shelves of books in a dawn raid today.

All Souls, the Oxford University college which owns the building, confirmed the move to either sell it or rent it out, presenting campaigners with yet another obstacle in their fight to save the Kensal Rise library.

“We really wish this had not happened and we regret that it has,” a spokesman for the College told The Independent.

The College, which donated it for use as a library in 1900, said it would welcome the group as a tenant or buyer but the institution confirmed it will listen to other offers. A source said the building would be used for public service, such as a doctor’s surgery; a nursery; or, indeed, another library.

But Margaret Bailey, one of the leaders of the campaign, said that buying the building was unrealistic. “We do not have £1m, which is the approximate value. We will not be in a position to make an offer. Our only hope is to negotiate a deal with All Souls College to rent the building at a preferential rate,” she said.

High-profile backers of the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign – one of the most prominent in the nationwide fight against library closures – criticised the council, which went in at around 3am, after local police advised them not to try to remove the books during daylight hours to “avoid a confrontation and disorder”.

The move comes less than two weeks after protesters saw their original attempt off and believed they would benefit from a “more conciliatory approach” from the incoming leader of the council Labour’s Muhammed Butt, who faced angry residents yesterday.

That, however, did not materialise. Mr Butt told campaigners this afternoon that the council had written to All Souls recommending the college work with them. It is understood, though, that All Souls had also written to the council recommending the same.

The removal was denounced as “wanton destruction” by the biographer Sir Michael Holroyd. And author Maggie Gee called the move “cowardice”.

She said: “The philistinism of unscrewing the brass plaque remembering Mark Twain from its wall in the middle of the night, would horrify anyone who still recalls Labour’s founding mission to share education, knowledge and hope with the people. We will continue to fight for our library.”

Fellow writer Michael Frayn said: “The library is now an unlibrary, in the way that people became unpersons in the darkest days of the Soviet Union. I hope they took the titles of the books off as well. Removing unbooks from an unlibrary – who could possibly object?

Campaigners believed they had a viable plan to run the library on a volunteer basis but were rebuffed by the council, which was worried it would be liable for any costs the campaigners could not meet.

Cllr Butt said he would like to help the campaigners in their bid to keep the library open. Asked why the council could not have simply handed over the use of the building before effective ownership reverted to All Souls, he said: “I understand where the campaigners are coming from but they were saying they wanted Brent Council to remain as the freeholder and give them it on a peppercorn rent rate.

“We would be responsible if anything happened and the campaigners could not carry on. We are trying to make £104m in savings and we could not keep it on.” He added he was happy to sit down with All Souls College and the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign to help them work out a solution.

A Brent Council spokesman said: “On the advice of the police, the council removed its property from the building in the early hours of the morning.

“We will now hand the keys back to All Souls College. The books and other materials will be sorted and distributed amongst the council’s six libraries for the use of all Brent residents. The council has committed to contacting All Souls College on behalf of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to enable discussion between the two parties.

“The murals and plaque were removed from the building with the other items this morning. They will be placed in safe storage which means they could be returned to the building should All Souls College agree to local people running it as a library.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home