Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Friern Barnet Library Campaign - The Council sticks it's fingers up at the community

Barnet Council has shown it's true colours and it's complete disregard for the community today.

At a series of recent meetings a number of options were presented to the Council by various local groups. A number of ideas were also raised to increase funds available for improvements to the library service, including setting up friends groups to facilitate fundraising activities at each of the 14 local libraries.

Campaign groups also engaged with the New Carnegie Trust, which has access to billions of pounds of funds, provided by wealthy benefactors committed to improved library provision. 

At meetings, Barnet Council confirmed that no sale was likely for approx 12 months. The groups asked for a period of nine months to put together a full proposal to make a workable peoples library. As the building would be sitting empty during this period, it seemed a sensible and pragmatic solution.

Today the council issued this email, showing that the council has not been negotiating in good faith. Local taxpayers time and efforts have been completely wasted.

The Barnet Eye is holding Mr Bill Murphy, Mr Nick Walkley, Councillor Robert Rams and Councillor Richard Cornelius responsible for wasting many hours of peoples time. 

We are disgusted with the behaviour of these people. Here is Bill Murphys email. It was doubtless sanctioned by his lord and masters, Walkley, Cornelius and Rams.

From: Murphy, Bill 
Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Friern Barnet - repossion of the building
To: friernbarnetcommunitylibrary@gmail.com,
Cc: "Taylor, Julie" , Paresh Mehta , "Doody, Lauren" , "Fahey, Mike"

Dear Phoenix and Rosie,
I write further to our meeting on 3 October 2012. There were a number of options presented to the Council as to how you proposed to run a community library at the former library premises. Having carefully considered the various options the only viable option would be option 4 i.e. for the community interest group to purchase the premises.
The premises have been earmarked for sale and the Council now need to market the premises for sale. Naturally, the community interest group can put forward offers for the purchase of the property at the appropriate time and the Council will consider that proposal along with any offers received from other interested parties.

It was made abundantly clear to the Council at the meeting by those who attended that the possibility of opening a community library from Friary House was no longer of interest.  
In order to consider any offers for the purchase of the premises the Council requires vacant possession. 

Having now explored all options in respect of your proposal to open a community library at the current premises the discussions are now concluded.
The Council now insists that you give peaceful possession of the premises so that the property can now be marketed for sale. Once the premises have been put up for sale you will have the opportunity to put forward an offer for the purchase of the property.
Bill Murphy
Assistant Director, Customer Services
The Barnet Eye has responded to this email in the strongest possible terms.

Dear Mr Murphy, Mr Walkley, Councillor Rams and Councillor Cornelius,

For the past month, I have been rearranging my business schedule, often at very short notice, to attend meetings with various employees of Barnet Council, including Bill Murphy, Julie Taylor and Mike Fahey.

I was under the impression that I was negotiating with Barnet Council in good faith. I have spent many hours working to assist the campaign to prepare options for appraisal, as requested by Barnet Council.

I also identified a potential use for Friary House, involving a well respected and well funded local charity. I provided Mr Murphy with my business card and asked for a breakdown of costs related to renting the property. Mr Murphy has not bothered to even acknowledge this offer, let alone provide me with the costs which I sought.

I also enquired as to the status of local friends groups for libraries, which could be involved in fundraising activities. Mr Murphy responded that no Barnet library has an active friends group and that the council was not involved in trying to establish any. I asked Mr Murphy if we could investigate this option as it could meet the funding gap which the sale of Friern Barnet library is designed to address. As any income would be ongoing, this would be far more sustainable.

Mr Murphy agreed to take an action at the last meeting to discuss the option of establishing friends groups. I would have thought that Barnet council would have jumped at the opportunity to establish such a "Big Society" option.

Sadly, it seems that my time has been completely wasted and myself and other local taxpayers have been lead up the garden path. I am truly disgusted that Barnet Council have treated local residents in this manner.

Unlike Council employees and councillors, who get paid a salary or an allowance whatever they choose to do with their time, as a small businessman, my time is precious. I deeply resent having wasted dozens of hours trying to facilitate a solution which would be good for all involved, only to find out that Barnet Council never had any interest in serious discussions.

The tragedy of all of this is that the council have chosen to throw away a huge opportunity to creat goodwill and enhance the national reputation of Barnet Council. It was clear to all involved that there are plenty of options for increasing income and improving fundraising for Barnets libraries.

Following this shameful summary dismissal of the community, I doubt that anyone will bother in any attempt to engage with Barnet Council, until such time as a trustworthy and credible administration takes over. For those of us with businesses to run, it is simply not worth the effort trying to engage with this council anymore.


Roger Tichborne
If you want to take part in the community response
++++Friern Barnet Community Library++++

Wednesday 10th Oct, 10am – Come and support the occupiers at COURT:

Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre. St. Marys Court, Regents Park Road, Finchley Central London N3 1BQ

And Wednesday evening let’s celebrate the PEOPLE’S library with:
Andre Espeut and Didjitalis 8.30pm 

A vision in sound! The band that takes dance music to new heights with its powerful blend of live organic and electronic grooves.


Morris Hickey said...

Oh, the abused - and omitted - apostrophes!!

i havn't got talent said...

thank you barnet eye for all you hard work & help with the library. i still got hope & faith thing will work out xxx friend of friern barnet library

Ron said...

reading the save fbl last meeting minutes, i don't think that the report on the "groups" is accurate or fairly presents the campaign consensus.