Councillors say thousands of pounds wasted on fruitless 'landmark' library plans

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

Labour councillors have slammed Barnet Borough Council for wasting thousands of pounds on fruitless plans to open a “landmark” library in North Finchley.

The authority has announced it will not continue with proposals to open a library at artsdepot and has opted to invest in the existing North Finchley Library instead.

But opposition councillors argue the council has already wasted thousands of pounds on a temporary library at artsdepot, as well as a feasibility study and temporary security measures at Friern Barnet Library which was closed under the library policy.

Councillor Anne Hutton, Labour’s libraries spokeswoman said: “The Tories Library policy is in complete chaos.  They closed Friern Barnet Library under the pretence of merging it into this landmark library at the artsdepot, which now is not going to take place.”

Speaking about plans to invest in North Finchley Library, she added: “There’s an outreach children’s centre on the top floor, so they’d only be able to use the bottom floor which isn’t much space. I think they should work with the community to keep Friern Barnet Library open. It shouldn’t have been closed in the first place.”

Councillor Pauline Coakley-Webb said she was not surprised by the council’s decision. She said: “I think it was going to cost too much money. But now the council saying it will turn North Finchley into a landmark library is beyond belief.

"It’s still on a busy road and would be difficult to access for the elderly and disabled who used to use Friern Barnet Library.”

The council spent £26,126 on the artsdepot project, including £10,126 on a feasibility study and £16,000 on supporting artsdepot to develop a longer term business strategy.

A breakdown in relationship between the council and artsdepot directors has been blamed as the reason for the pull-out.

The Times Series is waiting for a response from artsdepot.

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