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Friern Barnet Library activists positive after victory at Barnet County Court
Squatters in Friern Barnet Library are hopeful yesterday’s “huge victory” at Barnet County Court will strengthen their case for staying permanently in the disused facility.
A judge gave the group a stay of execution by adjourning the hearing for three weeks to allow them to put together a case for their occupation of the Friern Barnet Road building.
The decision came in the midst of ongoing negotiations with Barnet Council over the possibility of opening a community library there.
Pete Phoenix, 41, has been in discussions with the council and believes Tuesday’s unexpected court adjournment is an opportunity for the group to consolidate its position.
He said: “It is a huge victory. In the vast majority of cases the council would get a possession order there and then. We’re now hoping that negotiations can continue as we’re very close to getting some solutions worked out.
“The court case is a complete waste of money. We have told the council we will move out on a date to be agreed but we want to run the library in the interim period before the building is sold.”
Barnet Council wants the group out of Friern Barnet Library, which it is looking to sell for about £400,000.
The authority has instead tabled a £10,000-a-year offer for the group or any other organisation to open a community library at Friary House, in Friary Park.
Mr Phoenix added: “We’re working hard on the economic argument for staying at Friern Barnet Library. The council says they have had no offers for the building and it is unlikely to be sold for six to 18 months.
“People pay their council tax and they want to see a library that is at least partly funded or run by the local authority.
“We’re not squatters anymore – we’re licensees. We have had numerous meetings, phone calls and emails with the council and we are negotiating until a solution can be found.”