Campaigners rejoiced after they successfully won a bid to reopen a “valuable” library run “by the community, for the community”.

On July 20, the North Harrow Community Library Trust expressed “shock” when they officially took over North Harrow Library on Pinner Road three years after it was closed due to council budget cuts.

The library was one of four others in the area that suffered due to £83 million cuts made by Harrow Council where councillors voted to close libraries across Harrow.

Kamal Shah, chair of trustees for the North Harrow Community Library Trust started a campaign to save the service in 2015 with a view to take it over as a community hub. 

North Harrow Community Library Trust volunteers

Harrow Times:

Kamal and a group of volunteers formulated a business plan outlining their intentions for the service and after three years of campaigning they received the keys (over a 20-year lease) from the council on Friday.

Harrow council also awarded a transitional funding grant of £14,000 to the trust to help them get started. Annual running costs for the service are estimated at £25,000.

Kamal said: “I started the campaign when the announcement to close was made with a view to reopen a community space, run by the community, for the community. A real community hub in the centre of North Harrow.

“So, we got local people involved and put in a business plan to the council in 2015 and we were successful.

“We’ve got a big job on our hands not only to open it but to run it. I think it’s doable. The support we had when the campaign to save it was strong, and afterwards. The community wants that library. We will do it.

Kamal said the trust and its volunteers began cleaning the premises at the weekend, but they still need to pass health and safety checks in preparation for when the library is due to reopen in mid-September. 

At present they have 20 volunteers, but they are hoping to recruit more. The trust also needs to buy new computers and install a phone line. 

Talking about their success, Kamal added: “It was a bit of a shock, it’s been dragging out for so long and I didn’t think it would get to this stage. 

“We found out a week before Friday that the final hurdle had been overcome and the legal paperwork was finalised.

“A lot of people think it’s gone but they don’t realise things have been going on in the background.

“It’s a valuable resource we didn’t want to lose. The long-term plan is to make it a real community hub.”

Kamal said the library could reopen as soon as mid-September. 

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