Search

Children stage ‘Great Brain Robbery’ protest after being shut out of Barnet libraries

PUBLISHED: 11:30 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:30 06 March 2018

The protest was organsied to coincide with World Book Day. Picture: JON KING

The protest was organsied to coincide with World Book Day. Picture: JON KING

Archant

Children dressed as thieves and villains have staged a protest after being shut out of libraries.

Organisers dubbed the protest the 'Great Brain Robbery' to highlight their fears of the library closures impact on youngsters. Picture: JON KING Organisers dubbed the protest the 'Great Brain Robbery' to highlight their fears of the library closures impact on youngsters. Picture: JON KING

Youngsters and their parents braved the snow and icy wind to take action outside East Finchley Library in the High Road on World Book Day last Thursday.

The protesters urged cultures minister Matt Hancock MP to intervene and declare unlawful changes to Barnet Council’s library service which have seen staff cuts and children locked out of libraries unless with a parent.

Speaking at the protest, Archer Academy pupil, Salma, aged 11, said: “We want some independence to go to the library by ourselves. Some children find it embarrassing because they feel too old for their parents.”

The protest, dubbed the Great Brain Robbery by organisers Save Barnet Libraries, saw about 45 people chanting and waving placards saying, “Open minds need open libraries” on the library steps.

Barnet Council made sweeping changes to its library service in a bid to save money. Picture: JON KING Barnet Council made sweeping changes to its library service in a bid to save money. Picture: JON KING

Veteran campaigner Keith Martin accused Barnet of breaking the law in failing to provide a comprehensive service.

He said: “Matt Hancock must realise what Barnet is doing is wrong. He must be aware Barnet is breaking the law.”

He described Barnet’s move as a test case, claiming councils across the country are watching the council to see if they can introduce similar measures.

Barnet decided in April 2016 to axe staff, offer self-service opening hours and open up library buildings to commercial uses in the face of budget cuts.

About 45 children and adults joined the protest.. Picture: JON KING About 45 children and adults joined the protest.. Picture: JON KING

Barnet is expected to make £2.2million savings out of £61.5m it needs to cut by 2020. Barnet now pays security guards to police unstaffed venues.

Sita Brahmachari, author of Artichoke Hearts, speaking at the protest warned children who are the first generation to speak English in their families were being deprived of their rights by the changes. “The children who really need libraries are being locked out,” she claimed.

The campaigners are calling on Mr Hancock to decide whether or not to intervene after the group handed in results of a survey they carried out which showed, among other things, 60 per cent of parents saying their children visit libraries less often after the cuts.

Barnet’s Cllr Reuben Thompstone, libraries chief, said: “We consulted extensively with residents and have redesigned a library service which has allowed us to keep open all of the borough’s 14 libraries - two of which are brand new library buildings. We have also been able to maintain our home, mobile and digital library resources.

A protester and her son outside the library. Picture: JON KING A protester and her son outside the library. Picture: JON KING

“Though we have changed the number of staffed hours our libraries are open, we will be increasing the number of hours our residents can access our libraries each week. There has been a very positive uptake for self-service opening hours, with more than 17,000 people already signed up.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:37

Camden and Islington’s mental health trust is consulting on plans to pool its inpatient beds at a new site at the Whittington Hospital.

Yesterday, 15:07

People in Hampstead Garden Suburb are up in arms about the proposed expansion of the historic Henrietta Barnett School – six years after the last one.

Yesterday, 14:05

A well-known male fashion model was knifed to death by a less successful rival in a row over a girl, a court has heard.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Plans to open a restaurant in Muswell Hill could lead to more noise and anti-social behaviour, a neighbour has warned.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Haringey Council is set to ditch the controversial Haringey Development Vehicle policy, at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, costing at least £520,000.

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Camden conman who posed as a bank official to swindle three family-run businesses out of almost £2m was jailed for seven years on Thursday.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The property price gap between London and other cities around the UK is predicted to narrow in the next two years according to figures published by Hometrack

Friday, July 13, 2018

The military aircraft circling London’s skies for President Trump’s visit are shaking people’s houses and setting off car alarms, say Crouch End residents.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Preparing your child in advance for school will go a long way towards ensuring the very best start for your child.

After over 50 years in the acting industry, and a decade of unprecedented success delivering outstanding part-time performing arts tuition at her weekend Academies across the country, Pauline Quirke returns to her roots to create even more opportunities for young performers in North London.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now