Monday, 16 April 2012

** Updated ** Open Letter to Barnet Council regarding Friern Barnet Peoples Library - Proposal for Opening Friern Barnet Peoples Library

From: Roger Tichborne
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 9:38 AM
Subject: Re: Proposal for Opening Friern Barnet Peoples Library

Dear Councillor Cornelius,

I am writing to you, as leader of Barnet Council, with a proposal which I believe you should seriously consider regarding Friern Barnet Library. On Saturday, we opened the Friern Barnet Peoples library on the village green next to the site of the closed Friern Barnet library. We asked for a public donation of books and volunteers to help run the peoples library. Dozens of people turned up and volunteered to help and hundreds of people turned up to borrow and donate books.
David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative party was elected on a manifesto of building a big society, where people are empowered to shape their own community. The Friern Peoples Library is an excellent example of such an enterprise. The Save Friern Library group, in association with other community groups, agreed that we would hold the library on the site every saturday. After consulting with the group, it was agreed that whilst it was lovely to hold the peoples library on the village green on a beautiful spring day, such as saturday, not every day will be so clement.
I was so inspired by the fantastic response to our library by the community, that I rashly agreed to write to Barnet Council with an offer to fund the hire of the former Friern Barnet Library for the Friern Peoples library. This would be a fantastic opportunity for Barnet Council to show that it is listening to the people, that it believes in Big Society and that it is genuine in its commitment to provide library provision for the people of Friern Barnet.  As the new library at the Arts Depot is not open and will not be for a considerable amount of time, it will allow the people access to a library in the interim period.
As I can understand that Barnet Council may be reluctant to reopen the building following the symbolic occupation which went on for 2 hours beyond the scheduled closing time, I will secure agreement from the various local groups to undertake no similar occupation during the occupancy and will underwrite the costs to the council of dealing with any such occupation, staged as a result of opening of the Peoples library. I have the trust of the people of Friern and believe they will act in good faith.
As the building is closed and there is little likelihood of a sale within three months, my proposal is as follows.
I will pay a sum of £500 to Barnet Council as a peppercorn rent for a period of three months.
The Peoples library will operate at the following times
4-8pm on a Tuesday
11-3pm on a Saturday
The council will allow storage of Peoples Library books on site during the other hours.
My electrician will reconnect power and I will pay all water and electricity costs incurred by the Friern Peoples library
The council will allow staging of acoustic music and book reading events on a Friday and Saturday evening up to 10pm subject to licenses and insurance. Please note, this will not be loud Rock music or anything likely to cause disturbance and will be staged in agreement with local councillors and Save Friern Barnet Library Group.
The three month period will not interfere with any proposed sale in any way. It will allow the Save Friern Library Group to demonstrate the requirement for a library and the support of the local community. Since the proposal to close Friern Library and sell the site, to raise the capital required to complete underpinning works at East Barnet library in Robert Rams constituency was proposed, Barnet Council has received £27 million back from Icelandic banks. This is earmarked for capital projects and was an unexpected windfall. This should be used to pay for the East Barnet Underpinning works (a small sum in consideration to the £27 million).
The question for Barnet Council and yourself is this. Do you wish to participate in Big Society by helping the community open Friern Peoples Library or do you wish the council to be seen as attacking our local community?
There is a huge level of public interest in the Friern Peoples Library, here are just some of the stories about the library from National and local media
Barnet Council has seen plenty of bad headlines. In one fell swoop, they could generate a huge wave of goodwill by agreeing to this proposal. If nothing else they could earn £500 from a site currently lying empty.
Councils are often criticised as slow moving, bureaucratic and dogmatic. Barnet Council could show that it is dynamic and cares about it's community, by agreeing to this proposal and opening the doors to the library on Saturday.
Roger Tichborne

P.S Please note this email has been BCC'd to various local and national media
Update 10:54 - Several calls and emails from various news media about this already. This is going to be a massive story. The eyes of the world are on the response from Barnet Council

1 comment:

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