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Squatters have two weeks to compile civil court defence for Friern Barnet Library occupation
Squatters occupying the closed Friern Barnet Library appeared in court this morning as Barnet Council began legal proceedings to have them ousted.
The group, which took over the building when they broke in two weeks ago, attended the civil hearing at Barnet County Court despite pleading with the council yesterday to cease the action.
The hearing was adjourned for three weeks, giving the squatters a fortnight to compile a defence for their occupation.
Yesterday, council officers continued negotiations with the group, which is hoping to open a community library at the Friern Barnet Road building.
The activists have already reopened the facility to the public and are lending books donated by supporters in the local community.
Barnet Council yesterday tabled a £10,000-a-year offer to open a part volunteer-run library at Friary House, in Friary Park, though opponents say the venue is not suitable.
The authority says the only way a library could be run full time at Friern Barnet again is if the group is able to purchase the building at an asking price of £400,000.
A council representative said in a statement: "We are enthusiastic about talking to any group ready to set up a community library in Friary House.
The support package which has always been on offer for any community group includes books, a £10,000 grant, a standalone IT system as well as considerable help and support.
Any offer of a community library at the former Friern Barnet library would be on the condition we received a capital receipt for the building.
The council has a duty to its taxpayers to protect its assets and will be continuing with legal proceedings for the removal of the squatters. This does not preclude ongoing talks with the group about setting up a community library. “
The civil court case will resume on October 9.