Sunday, 8 April 2012

Open letter concerning Friern Barnet library closure

********** Updated Sunday 11.20pm
I've been contacted by Councillor Kate Salinger who tells me that she attended the library at 3pm to return some books before it closed. On arrival she was greeted by a large group of protestors, who complained about the withdrawal of toilet facilities. She immediately called Richard Cornelius who arranged for the facilities to be made available to protestors.

Kate assures me that Richard Cornelius is a decent guy and was not aware of the ban when she called him. Lets hope that all parties have learned something from the incident.

********** end of update

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2012 9:46 AM
Subject: Open letter concerning Friern Barnet library closure

Dear Councillor Cornelius
I am sending you this open letter, because I am shocked and outraged at the treatment of local residents at Friern Library on Thursday 5th April. As you are no doubt aware, a group of local residents, upset by the withdrawal of library provision, gathered to stage a sit in at the library. Although Barnet Council had stated that the library would shut at 4pm, it was closed considerably earlier.
A group of 15 people remained in the library until approx 6pm. It appears that officials working for Barnet Council refused to allow the group, some of whom were elderly, to use the toilet facilities in the library. As someone who suffers from a medical condition, which requires relatively frequent trips to the lavatory, I can only recoil in horror at this refusal to provide a basic human right. 
In my dealings with you, I have formed the opinion that you are a decent and honest fellow. I cannot believe that you would wish to subject residents who are clearly concerned about their community, to the indignity of using a bucket in a public place, to go to the toilet. There are ways and means to win arguments and make cases. Forcing Barnet Council taxpayers to urinate and defaecate in public is surely not of them.
In a civilised society, peaceful protests and good humoured sit ins are a vital part of democracy. Do you really want to preside over a  council which uses tactics more akin to a tinpot third world dictatorship, when dealing with upset elderly citizens? I am urging you to consider the actions of your officers. Please can you ensure that in future residents of Barnet are treated with at least a modicum of decency. I cannot believe you would deprive a visitor to your home, use of your plumbing facilities, even if you felt they had outstayed their welcome. Please afford the taxpayers of Barnet the same courtesy.
Roger Tichborne


Mrs Angry said...

I think it is clearly now a pisspot, rather than tinpot dictatorship. It really does stagger belief that the senior officers involved forced residents to use a wastepaper bin to pee in: as you say the group included elderly people, but also I believe there was at least one child present. Cllr Kate Salinger told me herself that she had had to go and order the officers to allow residents to use the loo: just incredible, and yet another spectacular PR gaffe by Barnet Council. As the head of comms & PR was present at the sit in - I saw him outside at one point - what does it say about his judgement that he allowed this to occur?

Vicki Morris aka Citizen Barnet said...

It's hardly important but there might be another possible explanation for Bill Murphy, AD of customer services and libraries in Barnet, a highly paid consultant, relenting and eventually allowing us to use the proper loo.

Without realising it, we had constructed our portaloo in front of the meter cupbard, and since the council wanted to switch off the electricity, they couldn't do it with our loo in front of it.

I think this might be why they changed their minds. They did it suddenly and without any fuss.

We dismantled the portaloo promptly and tidily when we were allowed to use the proper loo. We might have hung onto our bargaining chip if we had realised that such it was!

Half an hour later, Murphy was in whispered consultations with a bemused looking bloke who turned out to be the electrician and went into the meter cupboard. Then we realised our 'mistake'.

Lessons from the field. Check early on where the meters are - you don't necessarily have to pee in front of them, just find some other way to control access to them!