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CommUNITY Barnet 'will not run' Friern Barnet Library following squatters' eviction
CommUNITY Barnet’s CEO says the organisation has no intention of running the library in Friern Barnet despite suggestions it had struck a deal with the council.
Libraries portfolio holder Councillor Robert Rams had said the voluntary sector support group would be handed a licence to run the building until official bids were made.
But the charity’s interim CEO Denise Murphy told the Times Series that no such agreements were made.
She said: “We were somewhat surprised. We had been asked if we would support the groups that want to run the library services in Barnet and we said yes.
“We didn’t talk about a licence at all. We’re an infrastructure group, we don’t run services.”
Squatters gained access to the Friern Barnet Road building in September and have since helped community groups set up their own library in there.
Barnet Council says it will evict the squatters at the end of this month before marketing the property on February 25.
Groups and businesses then have six months to submit bids for the council’s consideration and the authority says its current budget will allow it to look favourably on applications from within the community.
CommUNITY Barnet has been invited to support any groups wanting to submit a bid.
The organisation will also assist the current occupiers, or any other group, looking to continue the running of the library in the six months between the eviction of the squatters and the council’s final decision.
Mrs Murphy said: “Should the Friern Barnet library groups or any other groups want to make a bid, we will be there to support them.
“There is no agreement with Barnet Council – they proposed it to us and we have said we will be open to any groups that ask for our help.
“We would of course have helped anyway as that is what we do. We had already had some phone calls from one or two of the current occupiers before the council approached us.
“We have only had one group in touch with us so far and that is the people in the library at the moment.”