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Tim Lott: Brent Council models itself on 'Goodfellas'


I spent most of yesterday standing outside my library in Kensal Rise, north-west London, trying both to stop Brent Council removing the books and to work out what Kafkaesque logic brought me here.

Since the decision to close the library in 2010, protesters have found themselves in the crazy position of trying to stop Brent giving what was a rent-free property back to the freeholders, All Souls College. The college don't want the library back. They want it to stay as a library, but if Brent gives it up, the College may be legally obliged to demand a market rent.

If the campaigners can't raise the money the College will sell it, the council will forfeit a lot of goodwill and save very little, and a 100-year-old tradition of learning and literacy will be stamped on.

It's the Goodfellas theory of politics – that local councils are more like mob bosses than rational actors. They hate losing face. Dey run dis turf, not punk civilians. Everything can go to hell so their mob logic is sustained.

Alan Bennett, Zadie Smith, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman and others came to support us. And what did the council's leader say? "People can buy their books in Tesco now". Her replacement called off the dogs yesterday, thanks to the protest, and the books remain in place – for now. But until Brent prove otherwise, I will continue to believe there's only one sort of culture allowed around here – mob culture.