Campaigners are “devastated” after plans to close Friern Barnet library were given the go ahead last night.

Barnet Council Cabinet members agreed to shut both Friern Barnet and North Finchley libraries in favour of setting up a new “landmark library” at the Artsdepot in North Finchley.

Martin Russo, a member of Save Friern Barnet Library campaign group(SFBL) said: “We are devastated by the decision. The young and old, the retired and unemployed and the vulnerable members of our community all benefited from this public space. We've lost something we really depended on.”

SFBL had gained the support of more than 3,000 people who were fighting to keep the library open. The group argued the Arstdepot is too far away, and the closure would affect the most vulnerable people in the area as well as detriment hundreds of children’s literacy levels.

But speaking in favour of the library strategy at last night’s Cabinet meeting, Councillor Robert Rams, cabinet member for customer access and partnerships said: “We will see libraries that will open longer, more money will be spent on books, new libraries will be built and every child at school will be signed on to the libraries service.”

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 group worked on a proposal but it was thrown out by the council.

Cllr Rams, said: “The group estimated £20,000 a year income from the library when the most we made last year was £7,000. I don’t think that figure was realistic.”

The council suggested the group set up a volunteer-run library at Friary House in Friary Park, but SFBL turned the offer down.

Mr Russo said: “We spent a lot of work on the proposal and demonstrated the passion our community feels for the library. Our hearts have been crushed. But, now the library is closing we will need to consider the alternatives.”

Friern Barnet Library will close on March 31 but the council hopes to have some services, such as Children's Rhyme Time sessions, running at the Artsdepot by April 1.

No date has been set for the closure of North Finchley Library. Hampstead Garden Suburb library will remain open after councillors agreed to enter negotiations with Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association on housing a “community library” in the existing building.