Mark Whitehead 29 April 2016

London authority handing library to prep school ‘on the cheap’, protesters claim

A London council has defended its decision to move a library to new premises while leasing the old building to a private school.

Users of North Kensington Library have held two protests so far to insist it is kept in council hands instead of being leased to Notting Hill Prep School.

They have attacked plans by Kensington and Chelsea Council over the area’s oldest library, a grade 2 listed building, which they say will be handed over ‘on the cheap’ to the £5,800-a-term school.

Under the council’s plans the library facilities will be moved to a new building on the site of a nearby community centre while the school would pay about £365,000 a year.

A spokesperson for the local community organisation Grenfell Action Group, said: ‘The library was built out of public funding so that local people could educate themselves.

‘It was then given to the council to manage, but instead of managing it they’ve decided to strip it and give it to their friends at the prep school.’

However, the council said the school was going to pay a rate higher than normal because of its position and that unlike the current building, the new library would be fully accessible to people with disabilities.

It said the library would not close until the new facilities were open to the public.

In a statement the council said: ‘The existing North Kensington Library is a Grade II listed building which restricts its redevelopment potential.

‘The lack of external space makes it unsuitable for educational use as an independent unit and the raised ground floor hinders alternative retail uses.’

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