Monday, 4 February 2013

Friern Barnet Library occupation ends tomorrow, a new chapter opens

Tomorrow, the occupiers of Friern  Barnet Library hand over the building to the new management. Here is a press release.
The community responds to the announcement that the library is saved

Saved !!! Friern Barnet Community Library

Friern Barnet Library Saved – handover ceremony on Tuesday 12 Noon

Handover of keys  from the squatters to the licencees and red ribbon reopening
12.00 Midday Tuesday 5 February 2013

CONTACTS:  Phoenix 07769 791387

On Tuesday 5th February, at midday, exactly five months since the occupation began, the community will take possession of the Friern Barnet Library. The local community – represented by the trustees of the library - are on the verge of agreeing a two-year lease with Barnet Council (LBB) to run the library with some funding.

At the ceremony, squatters and supporters of the Occupy movement, who have been keeping the building open and enabling the local community to run a book lending service and community centre in the building, will hand it over to the trustees of the newly formed Friern Barnet Community Library (FBCL). They have now received a licence from LBB to be in the library for two weeks with the promise of renewal of the licence if necessary to negotiate a lease and other matters (eg, who pays the utilities, insurance, and ongoing future repairs). LBB has shown a willingness to amend the licence to their satisfaction.

“This is a triumph for the local community,” said, one of the trustees of the new community library. “Our library was closed in April. And we were told the building would be ‘marketed’. Now we have our library back, with council financial support. We achieved this through constant campaigning, lobbying, and building a broad alliance including squatters, activists, supporters of the Occupy movement, local residents and library campaign groups.

Mike Gee, local activist said, “I do not fully understand this volte-face [by the council] but on the face of it, it’s wonderful. However, we must not forget, this protest is not just about FBL, one library, it is also about the creeping move to a totalitarian state, the irrational, unjust and draconian cuts to vital public services and job losses that are undermining the very way we live, think and breathe. The anecdote is to wake up, open our minds, eyes and hearts and pledge continuing involvement and support to the Occupy Movement. Solidarity!”

Roger Tichborne, Local Blogger, Barnet Eye, said, “We should all remember that the council is our council. We are all part owners and stakeholders.  What has happened in Friern is a massive victory because it has shown the whole community opposes these anti social policies and unethical policies.  It is up to each and every one of us to do everything in our power to resist the forces of ignorance and greed. We haven't got what we want, but we've got a community that stands together.”

Housing and Squatting activist, Phoenix, stated: “This campaign definitely shows the success of direct action and squatting. This is a seed of change. The whole country will soon be facing 80% of the rest of the cuts. They can take some inspiration from this direct action. We have collectively helped to save this library from being sold off for development and bulldozed. We would like to see more arrangements between owners of the 1.4 million empty buildings in the UK and squatter/ homeless and community groups, rather than the criminalisation being carried out by this government under the new law.  A law we feel strongly is unjust, undemocratic and arbitry."

“We want to make it clear that, the activists support the National Libraries Campaign and that putting in place a paid librarian is a priority. I believe consensus has been reached with the community on this point. As it stands, the funding offered by the council does not cover a full time librarian, but as the two year lease is negotiated and plans go forward, this will be kept at the front of the conversation. The activists would like to say that we are strongly opposed to austerity and all the cuts, especially to the library service. We are also heavily opposed to criminalising the homeless/squatters. The extreme right of the conservative party is seeking to make squatting non-residential building also illegal. This, if it was successful, would affect all our rights to protest by occupying/squatting space, and would make successful community squat occupations such as the library campaign ILLEGAL, thus further removing our rights to shelter and protest.”

Come and celebrate with us, as the keys are officially handed over, from Occupy to the new Friern Barnet Community Library

At Friern Barnet Library building , Friern Barnet Road, N11 3DR

Tuesday 5th February 2013  

12 midday

 Come and join us afterwards too, for party nibbles and soft drinks!
Party and music afterwards all day and evening as thanks, appreciation and support to Occupy for securing the building and giving the community back their fantastic library space


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