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Library campaigners refuse to join activists occupying building
Friday, 07 September 2012
Occupied: Dave Simpson, left and John Byrne are two of the activists who want to bring a community library back to the Friern Barnet site
THE organisers of a campaign to reopen Friern Barnet Library say they will not be joining the group of protesters currently occupying the building.
The eight-strong group of squatters, which includes students, artists and a former librarian entered the former library building in the early hours of Wednesday morning. They told The Press they will continue to occupy the building in Friern Barnet Road until it is brought back in to public use.
“A significant amount of people in the community want this to be a library and the council is just saying no,” said 23-year-old music student John Byrne. “We want to make it possible for it to still be used as a library and community centre.” ??
Friern Barnet Library closed on April 5 after a long campaign by local residents, including the Save Friern Barnet Library group, opposed to plans to merge the library with North Finchley library to create a landmark arts library at artsdepot in Tally Ho Corner. On that day 16 members of the public staged a sit-in in protest to the closure.
Since then the community have held several pop-up libraries outside the library's former home.
Mr Byrne said the occupiers, who claim to have entered the building via an open window, wanted to work with the community to run a new community library, and were hoping some might join their occupation of the building. ??
He said: “Somebody needs to be in the building at all times. We can’t stay here all the time so we are hoping to bring in people from the community.” ??
But Maureen Ivens of the Save Friern Barnet Library group said the group had decided to refuse the invitation.
She said: “We have been invited by the new occupants to join them in running a community library in the building but have decided not to trespass there but continue to run our protest libraries from the adjacent village green.
She added that the group was keen to open “meaningful negotiations” with the council about legitimate use of the building.
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Sir Ray Tindle
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