Saved !!! Friern Barnet Community Library
February 4, 2013
Friern Barnet Library Saved – handover ceremony on Tuesday 12 Noon
On Tuesday 5th February, at midday, exactly five months since the occupation began, the community will take possession of the Friern Barnet Library. The local community – represented by the trustees of the library – are on the verge of agreeing a two-year lease with Barnet Council (LBB) to run the library with some funding.
At the ceremony, squatters and supporters of the Occupy movement, who have been keeping the building open and enabling the local community to run a book lending service and community centre in the building, will hand it over to the trustees of the newly formed Friern Barnet Community Library (FBCL). They have now received a licence from LBB to be in the library for two weeks with the promise of renewal of the licence if necessary to negotiate a lease and other matters (eg, who pays the utilities, insurance, and ongoing future repairs). LBB has shown a willingness to amend the licence to their satisfaction.
“This is a triumph for the local community,” said, one of the trustees of the new community library. “Our library was closed in April. And we were told the building would be ‘marketed’. Now we have our library back, with council financial support. We achieved this through constant campaigning, lobbying, and building a broad alliance including squatters, activists, supporters of the Occupy movement, local residents and library campaign groups.
Mike Gee, local activist said, “I do not fully understand this volte-face [by the council] but on the face of it, it’s wonderful. However, we must not forget, this protest is not just about FBL, one library, it is also about the creeping move to a totalitarian state, the irrational, unjust and draconian cuts to vital public services and job losses that are undermining the very way we live, think and breathe. The anecdote is to wake up, open our minds, eyes and hearts and pledge continuing involvement and support to the Occupy Movement. Solidarity!”
Roger Tichbourne, Local Blogger, Barnet Eye, said, “We should all remember that the council is our council. We are all part owners and stakeholders. What has happened in Friern is a massive victory because it has shown the whole community opposes these anti social policies and unethical policies. It is up to each and every one of us to do everything in our power to resist the forces of ignorance and greed. We haven’t got what we want, but we’ve got a community that stands together.”
Housing and Squatting activist, Phoenix, stated: “This campaign definitely shows the success of direct action and squatting. This is a seed of change. The whole country will soon be facing 80% of the rest of the cuts. They can take some inspiration from this direct action. We have collectively helped to save this library from being sold off for development and bulldozed. We would like to see more arrangements between owners of the 1.4 million empty buildings in the UK and squatter/ homeless and community groups, rather than the criminalisation being carried out by this government under the new law. A law we feel strongly is unjust, undemocratic and arbitry.”
“We want to make it clear that, the activists support the National Libraries Campaign and that putting in place a paid librarian is a priority. I believe consensus has been reached with the community on this point. As it stands, the funding offered by the council does not cover a full time librarian, but as the two year lease is negotiated and plans go forward, this will be kept at the front of the conversation. The activists would like to say that we are strongly opposed to austerity and all the cuts, especially to the library service. We are also heavily opposed to criminalising the homeless/squatters. The extreme right of the conservative party is seeking to make squatting non-residential building also illegal. This, if it was successful, would affect all our rights to protest by occupying/squatting space, and would make successful community squat occupations such as the library campaign ILLEGAL, thus further removing our rights to shelter and protest.”
Come and celebrate with us, as the keys are officially handed over, from Occupy to the new Friern Barnet Community Library
At Friern Barnet Library building , Friern Barnet Road, N11 3DR
Tuesday 5th February 2013
Come and join us afterwards too, for party nibbles and soft drinks!
Party and music afterwards all day and evening as thanks, appreciation and support to Occupy for securing the building and giving the community back their fantastic library space
IF YOU CAN HELP WITH FOOD/SOFT DRINKS/DECORATIONS/GENERAL
PLEASE CONTACT Anne Storey firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Handover of keys from the squatters to the licencees and red ribbon reopening
12.00 Midday Tuesday 5 February 2013
CONTACT: Phoenix 07769 791387
The Friern Barnet Community Library (Ltd) has been legally incorporated in the last fortnight in response to the opportunity to negotiate a lease with the council.
The library was closed by the Council in April 2012. Community activist squatters reopened it on 3rd September, as a campaign to save the library and also as a protest against the new criminalisation of
the homeless and squatters by the LASPO Act 2012 (enacted on 1 September). NB squatting in non residential buildings is still legal.
For more on the threat to squatters rights by criminalising Commercial squatting.:
The Squatters Action For Secure Homes have just launched a campaign and rapidly growing petition to repeal the LASPO Act 2012.
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/44597 please sign and support.
It was the Direct Action by the squatting community and supporters of Occupy on Sept 5th 2012 that re-ignited the campaign to keep the library open. Despite a two year campaign LBB had refused to negotiate. However at the second Possession hearing on Dec18th, Judge Pearl ordered that LBB should try and negotiate some form of licence to keep the library open, in order to protect the rights of the protesters under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act and to preserve ‘proportionality’ between the rights of the protesters and the rights of the council.
It was this Direct Action combined with the placing of the building on the register as a community asset by local residents that in the end forced the council to negotiate. The supporters of Occupy also acted as caretakers looking after the building and enabling a wide variety of events to take place in co-operation with the local community. They helped to strengthen the bonds emerging between different sections of the community so that at the meeting on Jan 29th many residents from different local groups stepped forward to thank the squatters and occupiers for their crucial help. One local resident Maureen Ivens, Chairwoman of the Save Friern Barnet Library group, said of all the different groups that had come together “We are here as one”.
Occupy London is against the cuts and continues to support the National LIbraries Campaign and the local community in their determination to install a professional librarian. This action by the local community in no way replaces or diminishes the responsibility of the council and government to carry out its responsibilities under the 1964 Libraries Act. However as a result of all the work done by an alliance of local residents, squatters, occupiers and legal advisers, the The Friern Barnet Community Library (Ltd) trustees will be handed over the keys by the council for a temporary licence allowing then to keep the Friern Barnet library building open until a full two year lease is signed by both parties.
In order to run the library efficiently once the Occupiers leave, we will need at least 50 volunteers. If you want to be involved:
1) Let us know if you would like to volunteer for a particular slot/time.
2) Or if you are interested in helping in the library and would like to be added to the ‘library bank’. (The library bank is a list of local people who can be contacted at short notice to cover the rota or help with specific tasks) *
Send us your name and email and we will include you on the list. Please forward this email to anyone who you think might be interested.
We are Community.
We are Library.
Tags: local services