Saturday, 19 February 2011

Massive Turnout Despite Appalling Weather Sends Clear Message - Hands Off Our Community!

At least 300 people (estimates ranged from this figure up to nearly 500) marched from Isleworth Library to Isleworth Public Hall in the rain to demonstrate their opposition to closures.  When the front of the march reached the Public Hall marchers at the rear were still turning into South Street by the War Memorial.

This community-led activity was backed by the (Conservative) MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Mary Macleod, and by all three (Labour) ward councillors for Isleworth.  We are grateful for their participation and support, and the sight of the four of them alongside ICG leader Ian Speed and Christine Diwell of The Isleworth Society (TIS) at the head of the march sends a potent message about the capacity our community has now developed to organise across political boundaries when the occasion demands.

The march finished at the Public Hall and we had quite deliberately adopted a "play it by ear" approach to what was to happen when we got there.  In the event the numbers involved were so hugely beyond everybody's expectations that we could only squeeze people into the various rooms and refresh them with tea, coffee and biscuits as even the hall would have been nowhere near large enough to have staged any kind of meeting.

A big well done and thank you to everybody who supported this wonderful event, to those who helped by leafleting and spreading the message, and to the SNT PS Charles Ehikioya whom we know went the extra mile, along with his excellent team of officers, to make this work.  Also to the St. John's Residents' Association and the Four Roads Residents' Association, to Delicacies, Jay at Londis and Camil at Joseph's Patisserie who all supplied provisions and refreshments, and to everybody else involved.

The message from Isleworth reverberated loud and clear today - Hands Off Our Community!!

Friday, 18 February 2011

STOP PRESS....Mary Macleod MP to Attend Residents' March Against Library Closure Threat

Within the last hour or so we have been advised that the Member of Parliament for Brentford and Isleworth, Mary Macleod (pictured), will be attending the March to Save Our Library and Public Hall tomorrow morning (Saturday, February 19th).

Residents welcome Mary's support, as indeed we welcome support from every quarter.

To join the march please assemble at Isleworth Library at 10.45a.m.

Monday, 14 February 2011

March to Save Isleworth Library and Isleworth Public Hall - Saturday, 19th February, 10.45 am

Residents may be aware that as part of a massive programme of budget cuts it has been proposed that Isleworth Library, along with up to seven others, may be closed.

Isleworth only reopened a couple of weeks ago!!!

As if that wasn't enough, Isleworth Public Hall is also under serious threat.  In fact anywhere where members of the community can get together and speak to one another seems to be very much on the hit list.

The Council Executive has now confirmed that it will delay any cuts to the library service and will also push back its plans for the Public Hall.  BUT NEITHER ARE SAFE !!!!

Hounslow still wishes to make a saving in excess of £800k and has yet to think of an alternative to the library closures.

That is why members and friends of our community will be holding a MARCH from Isleworth Library to Isleworth Public Hall on Saturday, 19th February 2011 at 10.45 am.

This friendly and good-natured activity is being supported across the community by people of all age groups and all backgrounds.  It has been organised by a cross-section of residents from The Isleworth Society (TIS), the Community Group (ICG) and Friends of Isleworth Public Hall, as well as many freelance campaigners and well-wishers.  It is intended as a short but potent demonstration of our community's robust opposition to the proposed cuts.

Meet up outside Isleworth Library at 10.45 am.  We will be staging a brief celebration of the opening of the new library before the march.

Refreshments will be available at the Public Hall from 11.30 am, where you will also be able to sign a petition.  If for any reason you are unable to attend the march, please make your way straight to the Public Hall.

We want to put on a real show of strength.  Please do your very best to join us on the march at 10.45 on February 19th.

See you there!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Library Closure Delay: Your Thoughts

Reproduced with acknowledgements to the Hounslow Chronicle

By Jessica Thompson

RESIDENTS have reacted to a council decision to delay library closure proposals.

The authority announced on Tuesday that it would minimise cuts to front line services after residents swamped them with responses during the public budget consultation.

It will be deferring some book purchases up to the value of £300,000, minimising the risk of library closure, while a more specific library consultation is under way.

But the libraries are not safe yet. The proposal to make immediate savings in this way still leaves a shortfall of £569,300 from the total amount that needs to be shaved from the library services budget. Libraries are still at risk.

Community members have been in touch with The Chronicle since the news broke, as well as discussing the plans on internet forums.

Below are some of the responses:

Cllr Sachin Gupta, Labour councillor for the Bedfont ward, said: "This is more positive than how things were before. It will give us the time now to work on it in more detail.

"This will buy us more time to work on a strategy. The world is changing and we probably have to change as well, it's just how we do it. There was hardly any time for people to respond when it was first announced. It's positive".

Brentford resident and campaigner Hazel Dakers said: "I think it's great that there has been a postponement of the destruction of eight branch libraries in Hounslow. However I am dismayed that the council statement implies that libraries are merely buildings. For a library service to be "alive" and relevant it must have a continuous flow of new book stock (and other media).

"Closing book funds inevitably causes level of use to drop off and then the council can say they may as well close down the branches".

Phil Andrews on the TW8 Brentford forum, said: "The Chronicle article doesn't read to me like an unqualified victory for the residents, just a consultation extended for an unspecified time, on unspecified terms at the end of which the local authority, if it didn't have the money before to keep our libraries open and functioning properly, will still not have the money to keep them open and functioning property.

"I'm sorry but this does not add up to me. We should continue with the campaign and emphasise the need to protect our library services in their entirety".

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Library Decision "Deferral" - LBH Climbdown or Smoke and Mirrors?

According to the Hounslow Chronicle, which has been helping residents to organise against the proposed library closures, the London Borough of Hounslow would appear to be retreating from its threat to close libraries across the board and will instead be "deferring some book purchases" and launching a "more specific consultation" over libraries which will "decide the longer term strategy".

The full text of the article is available here.

Whilst this hardly represents an unequivocal declaration that our libraries will be kept open, invested in and supported as a matter of policy it is of course welcome news up to a point.

However the glad tidings do not stop there.  Proposed cuts to community halls are also to be delayed.  Youth centre activities previously under threat will now remain open and fully functional, and hugely valued but costly street cleansing services will be kept after all.

The unanswered question of course is how retaining all these facilities, retained though they should be, is suddenly going to be paid for.  A few days ago we were to all intents and purposes being told that the firstborn could no longer be fed unless we would allow every community building, every venue at which local people might conceivably come into contact with one another, to be shut down instantly.  Now suddenly it would appear this was not the case.

Which begs two further questions in particular.  The first one being, if the money to keep these premises open and these services running truly does not exist, as we were first told, then how is the local authority going to finance this new, revised agenda?

Conversely, if the funds to keep the libraries and community venues open does exist and was always available, what was the motive behind suggesting closing them to begin with?

The community should accept this news in good faith, but we must ensure that it becomes more than just a stay of execution.  Activities in defence of our libraries, community buildings and area committees must continue until we have a cast iron guarantee that they will be protected for the duration of the current administration.

Save Isleworth Library Facebook Group

Please join up.  Just log on to Facebook and access it at

Brentford Library Read-In, Saturday 5th February from 12pm

Local campaigners including actress Susan Penhaligon, broadcaster Anna Ford and MP Mary Macleod will be staging a read-in at Brentford Library this Saturday as part of a National Day of Protest Against Library Closures.

Bring along a book to read, or you can pick one off the shelves. Bring a utility bill and join the library if you are not already a member.  Turn up from midday and have a public read in the knowledge that people all over the country will be doing the same.  Bring your children along and tell all your friends.

About Save Our Libraries LBH

Save Our Libraries LBH is an ad hoc initiative by Isleworth-based residents to lend our support and practical assistance to the campaign to keep Isleworth and other local libraries open, following proposals by the London Borough of Hounslow to axe up to eight of the borough's eleven libraries.

Whilst we appreciate the position that our local authority, like others, finds itself in, we believe that any move to close libraries in our borough would be a retrograde step, as well as quite possibly unlawful.  Libraries are a vital educational resource and it is in our view unreasonable and discriminatory to expect older or disabled people to travel to the "main" libraries in Hounslow, Feltham or Chiswick to access these facilities.
Unlike some other services, libraries would be almost impossible to replace once they have been closed down. Once your local library has gone, it will be gone forever.

A library, like our community halls and area committees (which are also under threat), is an essential resource for social interaction and local democracy.

Save Our Libraries LBH is not an organisation as such and does not have a formal membership structure.  If you agree with what we stand for and like what we are doing then you're in.

This site will be updated regularly.  Please keep an eye on it for regular news and activities.