Search

Camden squatter instrumental in delaying eviction from Friern Barnet Library

PUBLISHED: 18:03 18 September 2012 | UPDATED: 14:44 24 September 2012

Squatters and supporters of the Frien Barnet library occupation outside St Mary's Court 18.09.12.

Squatters and supporters of the Frien Barnet library occupation outside St Mary's Court 18.09.12.

Archant

Squatters from Camden have occupied a library closed down due to cuts to “reclaim the service for the community” – and have already had 2,000 books donated to the cause.

Squatters and supporters of the Frien Barnet library occupation outside St Mary's Court. Pete Phoenix is centre wearing a green t-shirt Squatters and supporters of the Frien Barnet library occupation outside St Mary's Court. Pete Phoenix is centre wearing a green t-shirt

Occupy London activists have reopened Friern Barnet Library and, along with local campaigners, are running a book-lending service, exercise classes and mother and toddler groups.

The library was closed by Barnet Council in April as part of a cost-saving exercise despite campaigners amassing 7,000 signatures.

Nearly two weeks ago the squatters gave their support to the campaign and entered the building in Friern Barnet Way, Friern Barnet.

Pete Phoenix, 41, a member of Occupy London, has been leading negotiations with the council about the future of the library since last Monday.

He said: “We are occupying the library on a rota basis. We have made a lot of progress.

“We’ve had 2,000 books donated by the community. We’ve had meetings with the council. They have offered us another building and we are trying to negotiate a solution.”

On Tuesday, he successfully negotiated a three-week stay of execution to put together a defence to stop squatters from being evicted from the library after the council decided to take legal action.

Following the decision at Barnet County Court in Finchley, Mr Phoenix said: “It’s a massive victory for the people of Barnet and London, and the national library campaign.”

It was a boost to squatters in general who were dealt a blow earlier this month when Parliament passed a bill that has made squatting in residential property a criminal offence punishable by a £5,000 fine or up to six months in prison.

The law does not extend to commercial properties.

Mr Phoenix is upset about the changes to the law and said: “I think it’s undemocratic, unlawful and unfair.

“I’ve had five or six calls this week from people getting evicted and getting dogs set on them. We are approaching a massive housing crisis because of this law.

“There are 930,000 empty homes and 430,000 empty commercial properties in the UK. There are 400,000 people homeless in this country including those in shelters and temporary accommodation.

“Most squatters live in rundown accommodation and actually do up the places they live in.”

He said he was “shocked” by a government report which said it is prepared to arrest 4,000 people under the new law and imprison them.

He said: “It costs £40,000 to put a person in prison. If they used that money and did up houses, we could create employment.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We note the decision of the court.

“The council has a duty to its taxpayers to protect its assets and will be continuing with legal proceedings for the removal of the squatters.

“This does not preclude ongoing talks with the group about setting up a community library.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

08:15

Two men have been charged with murder after a charity worker was stabbed to death in Little Venice on Monday.

10:12

Drivers who ‘idle’ are set to be given fixed penalty notices if a motion presented to Camden council is approved.

Yesterday, 17:56

The Trustcott Arms in Maida Vale is to re-open as a restaurant.

Yesterday, 16:52

Camden recorded the third highest amount of crimes across London in the 12 months up until June of this year.

Yesterday, 12:08

A woman who illegally sublet her Holborn council flat will have to do 200 hours of community service, and could be made to repay the £19,000 she made from the crime.

Wed, 14:35

Camden has topped a London-wide count of moped-related crimes, figures released today show.

Wed, 14:02

A man has been jailed after he abducted a two-year-old child in a McDonalds in Camden.

Wed, 11:23

Large-scale traffic disruption is anticipated in West Hampstead as Mill Lane is closed for major resurfacing works from October 21 to 28.

PROMOTED CONTENT

If you are a pet owner, maybe you can empathise with this familiar tale.

Japanese baby and children’s clothing company Familiar is making their first venture into Europe with a pop up event in Hampstead

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

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