Campaigners fighting to save Friern Barnet Library are “disappointed” after proposals to relocate its services nearly two miles away have been recommended for approval.

If Barnet Council cabinet members agree to the plans on Monday, Friern Barnet and North Finchley libraries would close, and a new one would be set up at Artsdepot in North Finchley.

But Martin Russo, a member of Save Friern Barnet Library (SFBL), said: “We don’t see this as a transfer – we see it as a closure.

“The idea of transferring services sounds exciting but some people, like children, won’t be able to commute to the Artsdepot.

“We feel very sad and disappointed about it. We feel we’re having the heart ripped out of our community.”

Plans to relocate the libraries were already approved by cabinet last July, but in October residents' groups were given time to come up with “community initiatives” to run their libraries more efficiently.

SFBL, which has around 3,000 supporters, worked on a proposal, but it was thrown out by the council last week.

Mr Russo said: “They rejected the possibility of working with us to investigate cross-budgetary funding of FBL and to incorporate public services such as health clinics and schools’ workshops alongside a wide range of volunteer-led services for the community.

“We had offered to raise revenue through imaginative use and promotion of the building and to offset council costs in return for a minimal public library service supported by volunteers.

“Council officers responded by offering us only one option – to run a stand-alone, volunteer-run community library from Friary House in Friary Park. This package included no paid librarians or supporting infrastructure of Barnet’s library services – a daunting prospect.”

The group turned down this offer and members are considering their next plan of action.

Councillor Robert Rams, cabinet member for customer access and partnerships, said: "Unfortunately the proposal community groups have put forward in Friern Barnet simply isn't workable within the council's budget.

“We are, of course, still planning to go ahead with the new landmark library in the Artsdepot and are working with that organisation to bring this into being. That will be a fantastic new facility for library users in the area.”

But Hampstead Garden Suburb looks set to keep its library as officers have recommended the council enters formal negotiations with Hampstead Gardens Suburb Residents' Association over plans to house a “community library” in the existing building.

Cllr Rams said: “When council approved the library strategy I made it clear we'd welcome community initiatives that would be at no cost or low cost to the council. I'm delighted it looks like we've reached agreement with volunteers to run Hampstead Garden Suburb Library.

"The council has to lose £46 million from its budget over a three-year period and I think our library strategy is a very good model for how we will invest in key aspects of our service in extremely difficult times."