Thursday 5 April 2012 will be remembered forever by the Friern Barnet community as the day that not only our library was closed, but the day that Barnet Council tore the heart out of our community. Over the past year I have been astonished and outraged at the blatant lack of regard for the residents of Friern Barnet by Barnet's Cabinet members. This was epitomised on Wednesday evening when once again Cabinet members swiftly voted through the decision to continue with the closure of Friern Barnet Library as planned, with little discussion or debate, despite 76 public questions, a packed gallery of supporters and strong arguments from members of the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Cllr. Brian Salinger and Cllr. Barry Rawlings.
Cllr. Rams had earlier tweeted that he hoped for 'a more civilised debate and discussion.' Civilised we were, (although Cllr. Rams might have been better directing his comment to his colleague and fellow Cabinet member Cllr. Coleman, who, during public question time, was heard telling one resident to 'clear off'), but I seem to have missed the 'debate and discussion' part.
Telling my two year old daughter that she will be able to visit an undefined 'Landmark' facility, two miles away from our home, some unspecified time in the future, is of no comfort. Like any toddler or young child, she wants to go there now and she wants to walk! For a parent, deciding how to spend that odd hour before lunch or after school, do I get in the car to drive along a grid locked Friern Barnet Road only to spend a further 15 minutes trying to park and negotiate a ridiculous pay by mobile parking system, or do I wait 15 minutes for a bus which I am unable to get on because there are already two buggies on there, or do I simply leave the house and walk the 10 minutes up the road to our lovely local library? Barnet Council - this is the life of real people and what real people need is our local library.
Wednesday night was an outrage and disgrace for democracy in the Borough of Barnet, for Friern Barnet residents it was a travesty.
Published in Barnet Times and Barnet & Whetstone Press, Thursday 12 April 2012