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Save Friern Barnet Library campaign group asked for library squatters, say activists
Four men broke into the venue in the early hours of Wednesday morning and yesterday issued demands for a new library to Barnet Council
Members of the Save Friern Barnet Library group contacted a squatters’ organisation and asked for the building to be occupied, according to activists holed up in the property.
Four men broke into the venue in the early hours of Wednesday morning and yesterday issued demands for a new library to Barnet Council.
The authority closed the venue to save cash in April despite a lengthy and popular campaign by protesters.
The group says it wants to “inspire change” and force the council to “listen to the public”.
The men said they took the action after a member of the Save Friern Barnet Library Group wrote to the Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS), asking for someone to occupy the building.
The ASS only provides legal advice to squatters but the group were made aware of the request through links to the organisation.
On Wednesday, Barnet Council entered into negotiations with the group, showing them around an alternative library venue and even offering a stock of books.
The Times Series visited the squatters, who say they are from Camden, last night as they made themselves at home in the former community hub.
The group, comprising Luke, Thibault and John in their 20s and middle-aged Dave, said they could be in the building for up to a month.
Luke said: “We’re looking to negotiate some sort of deal for the people that want to open a library here.
“We saw the interest in it and felt the council didn’t listen to the people. We think the community should decide what happens to the library – the council is here to represent the people but they’re not doing that.
“We’re looking to inspire a bit of change. The group has been chasing the council for months and got nowhere. We got a reaction from them straight away but even we were surprised that they were happy to engage with us and the level of response we got.”
Despite apparently squatting for the Save Friern Barnet Library group, the men denied acting on behalf of the campaigners.
Discussions between the council, Save Friern Barnet Library and the squatters are continuing today.
Luke added: “It depends how everything goes with the council but we’re not it will take two weeks to a month to go through the legal process to get us out.
“However, the council response seems quite positive, they seem willing to negotiate and something good might come of it.”
The Times Series is awaiting comment from the Save Friern Barnet Library group.