Authors and actors sign petition to reopen Friern Barnet Library

Times Series: Rosie Canning holds up signatures from top authors and actors Rosie Canning holds up signatures from top authors and actors

Top authors and famous actors have put their names to a petition lobbying Barnet Council to re-open Friern Barnet Library.

Since the council closed the library on Thursday, April 5, 283 people have signed the online petition. These include David Nicholls, author of One Day, and actress Prunella Scales, who is best known for her role as Sybil in the British comedy Fawlty Towers.

The petition was set up by Rosie Canning, who used to frequent the library when she was a pupil at Friern Barnet Primary School.

Miss Canning, of Chislehurst Avenue, North Finchley, who has continued visiting the library, said: “I have really good memories of going there with my friends when I was younger. When you grow up using something it becomes special, almost like a second home.

“I feel it’s important not to take no for an answer from the council. I think we should keep knocking on the door and make them open it. There’s such a huge amount of support for Friern Barnet Library.

"It's quite small and, because of that, people have got to know each other and it’s become part of the community.”

Miss Canning has also collected signatures from author Paolo Hewitt and actor Timothy West.

She said: “It’s wonderful. David Nicholls said it was a real pleasure. They’re all so supportive of keeping this library open.”

But Councillor Robert Rams, who is fronting the library strategy, remains confident about plans for a new “Landmark Library” at artsdepot .

He said: “The council's budget has been cut by almost a quarter. We have had to take almost £1.5million out of our library budget, which obviously means changes to the service.

"But we believe we have put together a strategy that supports adults literacy, children's literacy, longer opening hours, and will put more books in the hands of more readers.

"It will also mean every primary school child in Barnet will be signed up to the library service.

“Obviously that means changes in the way our service works and, with the best will in the world, not every resident will be happy with all of those changes.

"But we have just opened our interim library in the artsdepot, which is just over a mile away from Friern Library, which we will continue to expand in the coming months.”

But many people living in Friern Barnet say artsdepot is too far away.

Miss Canning added: “I won’t be using the library at artsdepot out of principle.”

To sign the petition, visit: http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/RE-OPENFBLIB/

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