‘Follow Bill’s example and vote to keep libraries open’

LIBRARY users have urged Camden Labour councillors to “do a Bill Budd” and vote with their conscience – not the party – against closing the borough’s libraries.

When Chalk Farm Library was threatened with closure in 1998, Mr Budd, a Labour councillor and former bodyguard of Churchill, defied the party whip with his colleague the then Mayor of Camden, Bob Hall. Both men, who have since died, voted to keep the library open and clinched the decision, saving the library.

Philippa Jackson, 38, who grew up in Chalk Farm and now lives in Hampstead, this week reminded Camden’s Labour group about the duo’s decision. Councillors will vote in June on plans to restructure Camden’s 13 libraries. Closing at least some of the libraries has not been ruled out.

Ms Jackson said: “Make no mistake, this will be a defining moment in their political careers and, as they cast their vote, they will have the weight of the local public and national opinion on their shoulders. Just as we remember Bill Budd, so we will remember them and hold them to account.”

Ms Jackson said she was tired of hearing Cllr Tulip Siddiq, who is responsible for libraries, parroting the now clich�d excuse that they didn’t become councillors to close libraries.

She quipped: “There’s a clear riposte there from Camden library users. “No sh** Sherlock, we didn’t elect you as our local representatives to close down libraries either.”

Rose Harte, of Powlett Place, added: “I’m passionate about libraries and I’ll do all it takes to keep them open. We want all our councillors to put their head above the parapet, like Bill Budd did, and save our libraries. If they don’t want to, then they should resign,” she said.