Monday, 22 August 2011

Garden Suburb Library at the Institute? Has anyone asked them? Or: Another Barnet council smoke-screen disperses to reveal yet another library cut

A revealing and dismaying item in the Ham & High by reporter Josh Pettitt: "Adult college dashes council hopes that it will provide home for Hampstead Garden Suburb library".

The Barnet council Cabinet meeting in July talked about plans to 'merge' North Finchley and Friern Barnet libraries at the Arts Depot when the two libraries close in October. In fact, there are no firm plans in place to replace these libraries at the new venue.

Now it seems that the Tory group's plan to run a library service from the Institute in East Finchley to replace Hampstead Garden Suburb library which they want to close is likewise just a fiction.
Chief executive of the adult learning centre in East Finchley, Joy Solomon, said she had never held any detailed discussions with the council.

“We (the Institute) had a meeting and decided it was not a satisfactory solution.

“It’s not that we’re not prepared to help, it just doesn’t meet the needs of mothers, children or elderly people,” she said. “To be honest, our role in the library thing is so marginal that we were kind of the flea which belonged to the leg of the dog. It was just a sentence or something that was discussed. It was never a big thing.”

When Barnet’s cabinet approved closure plans last month, libraries boss Councillor Robert Rams claimed that the council had “very positive conversations” with the centre which was “very keen for it to happen”.
Has Councillor Robert Rams lied about this?

The Ham & High article goes on to say:
Deborah Warland, leader of the Save Our Suburb Library campaign, said that the botched deal did not trouble them as the group was still looking to keep the 60-year-old library open in its current location in Market Place.

“We didn’t want the library to move to the Institute because we wanted to keep the library where it is. The only form of transport was a logistical nightmare for elderly members so we will just keep going,” she said.

The group has mustered 30 volunteers to help run the library. But the council has told the campaign that it has to run the entire operation on its own if it wants to stay open.

Mrs Warland said: “For the betterment of all school children, all the reading groups for the under-fives, it seems crazy to suggest a volunteer service can fulfil all those obligations.

“Barnet wants to do everything on the cheap without putting anything into our community service.”
If you are not already involved, get ready to fight for these libraries. The way it is looking at the moment, when they close and in spite of the Barnet Tories' disarming blandishments, there will be no replacement service!

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