Campaigners put library plan to council
Thursday, 27 October 2011
Options: Campaigner Martin Russo wants to see more council
By Kim Inam
LIBRARY campaigners have met with council officers to share their proposals for a community plan to keep Friern Barnet Library open.
Barnet Council’s cabinet approved a strategy in July that would see the library in Friern Barnet Road closed and merged with North Finchley Library in a new location at the artsdepot.
But residents were given a three-month reprieve to suggest an alternative solution to the authority.
Members of the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign unveiled their proposal to officers on Friday. It includes keeping a public sector-funded and staffed library, with additional events provided by volunteers, and suggestions for other council services such as tax collection or health programmes to be delivered at the site.
The campaigners said they have support and volunteers from local residents’ associations, schools, guides, the Royal British Legion, Age UK Barnet and the Dyslexia Association, which are prepared to run events and schemes at the library, including reading clubs and IT training.
Talking about the meeting Fiona Cochrane, chairwoman of the campaign, said: “We feel strongly that the wonderful commitments and support we have from our local community can only work properly with the support from our council.
“We were disappointed to hear that it is very unlikely that Barnet is looking to retain any publicly-run library service in Friern Barnet. We feel that we could enhance the service currently provided, with volunteer and community groups working alongside the council.”
Campaigner Martin Russo added: “Other services could be brought in such as collecting tax, which could make savings for the council. As well as using the site for additional childcare support or as a facility for music and teaching.”
Council officers have been meeting several campaign groups. Robert Rams, cabinet member for customer access and partnerships, said: “Following officers’ productive discussions with a number of groups we are expecting to confirm the decision-making process for the community bids within the next few days.
“We want to ensure that the process is completely fair and transparent and have therefore extended the deadline. We expect the process of confirming any viable proposals to take about six weeks.
Discussions would then continue with those groups with viable proposals. The final decision will be made by cabinet resources committee.”
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