Sixteen months after the Grenfell tragedy, the Council has marked the start of a new beginning in its relationship with the community with a commitment to guarantee the future of North Kensington Library.
The agreement reached with the Friends of North Kensington Library, which has been signed by the Council’s Leader, Elizabeth Campbell, marks the end of a long campaign which predated Grenfell. It also firmly seals an undertaking given by Cllr Campbell when she took over as Council leader that the Council would listen to residents and involve the local community in decision making.
North Kensington Library opened in 1891 and is one of the oldest purpose-built libraries in London. The building will now remain as a library for as long as it is a valued and well-loved service. Under a memorandum, guaranteeing its future, signed by Conservative and Labour councillors, the Council’s chief executive, Barry Quirk and the Minister for Grenfell Victims, Nick Hurd, any proposal to change the building will have to be developed with the local community and supported by a majority of local residents and library users.
The agreement guaranteeing North Kensington Library’s future was unveiled at a special community party to celebrate “Our Library – saved” on Saturday 20 October 2018.
Chris Bushell, of the Friends of North Kensington Library, said: “We are, of course, saddened that the agreement has been reached as a result of a dreadful local disaster. We do, however, welcome the decision to commit to this formal written agreement and recognise it as a sincere expression by RBKC of a willingness to engage with this community and to act in its interests.
“As we enjoy our library’s new lease of life, we will never forget those who are no longer with us. We will watch with great interest to see how the new resolve to engage with the residents of North Kensington and the new culture of trust develops in our borough.”
Cllr Elizabeth Campbell said: “We have listened to the local community and understand just how much this library is valued and cherished. We have no plans in the short, medium or long term to close the building or end its use as a public library.
“The agreement seals our resolve as a Council to place the views and voices of local people at the centre of all decisions and to develop a new culture of trust where we will work together for the good of all.
“The Council will continue to provide funding and resources needed to continue to run the high standard of service for all our residents.”