Council rejects petition to reopen Friern Barnet Library

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CAMPAIGNERS and councillors have called on the council to reopen Friern Barnet Library four months after it was forced to close.

They claim closure of the library in Friern Barnet Road in April, as part of a merger with North Finchley Library to form a new landmark arts library at artsdepot has deprived the area of a valuable local service and community focus.

On Tuesday, members of the Save Friern Barnet Library group were allowed to present a petition demanding the reopening of the library to the business management overview and scrutiny committee.

Addressing the councillorsRosie Canning who launched the petition, which has attracted 2,500 signatures attacked council chiefs for refusing to accept the group’s bid to run the library as a volunteer service, as they did Hampstead Garden Suburb Library, in Market Place, which is to be run by the local residents’ association.

"We want to work with Barnet Council to maintain a comprehensive and effective library service," she said.

Tory councillor Kate Salinger said residents had been left without a local hub and blasted the one-room interim library that was opened at artsdepot in April.

"To describe it as a library is doing Friern Barnet Library an injustice," she told the committee. "It is a sop to the people of Friern Barnet, nothing more."

Assistant director of libraries and customer service, Bill Murphy admitted that footfall at the new artsdepot service had been low.

"Seventy four people a week is not great," he said. "But it is not a fully functioning library."

After the meeting Mr Rams, said: "Having considered the petition, and in light of the decision of full council over the budget, I have to say I’m afraid there is no possibility that we can afford to reopen this library building."

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