Campaigners have vowed to keep fighting the "privatisation" of Barnet’s libraries after the council refused to back down on its stance of offering spaces to commercial tenants.

An announcement from business bub provider Wimbletech that it had pulled out of plans to lease out library spaces to start-ups dealt a blow to the council’s strategy of seeking private-sector partners to generate extra revenue from libraries.

Campaign group Save Barnet Libraries (SBL) thanked residents who had written letters of opposition to Wimbletech and chair of the council’s communities committee Cllr Reuben Thompstone.

But a spokesperson for Barnet Council said: “We were recently notified that Wimbletech is no longer proceeding with its plan to lease vacant sections of three library buildings in Barnet.

“We will therefore be seeking alternative commercial tenants for the spaces. This may or may not include alternative business hub providers.”

SBL pledged to continue fighting against library privatisations “no matter which business Barnet is trying to rope in”.

A statement issued by the group said: “We know the council approached other business hub providers already and all of them refused the invitation to tender except for Wimbletech.

“We also know there are other local business hub providers already operating near two of the libraries under threat.

“The council hasn’t established a local need and we are disappointed by their determination to continue to oppose the community in this way.”

SBL added that it was a “terrible irony” that the council was looking to seek accreditation from Unicef (The United Nations Children’s Fund) as a child-friendly community while continuing to cut services that affect children.

The council’s plans would see space at East Finchley, North Finchley and Chipping Barnet libraries offered to commercial partners as a means of generating extra revenue.

South-London based Wimbletech – which already leases library spaces in other boroughs – had wanted to offer desks to start-ups at a cost of around £800 a year before pulling out of the deal.

Labour’s community and libraries spokesperson Cllr Sara Conway said: “The Barnet Tories have no vision for our library service beyond plugging a financial black hole that they themselves have created through mismanagement.

“Instead of providing a 21st-century library service that meets the needs of all our communities, they are wasting money on security to guard unstaffed library buildings which children and young people are locked out of.

"They have hollowed out our libraries to make way for commercial tenants when our libraries should be community spaces where students can revise for summer exams, children can read and learn, and where community groups can meet.

“Also, there seems to be no strategy for linking up our libraries to arts and culture in the borough to provide an imaginative cultural offer which could generate some revenue for the council and be of benefit to the community.

“Rather than rushing again to lock us into a long term contract with a commercial provider, Barnet Tories should use this as an opportunity to develop a community-focused strategy based on proper local engagement, with Save Barnet Libraries and others to create a library service we can all be proud of.”