Camden squatter instrumental in delaying eviction from Friern Barnet Library

18:03 18 September 2012

Squatters and supporters of the Frien Barnet library occupation outside St Mary

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


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-shirtSquatters 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.”


Latest News Stories

North London coach Greg Mackett coaching cricket in Rwanda

A North London cricket coach has flown to Rwanda to help fight the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Police attended as a group of travellers arrived at the Liddell Road site. Picture by local resident, 'Jon'

A group of travellers has moved into a council-owned site in West Hampstead, prompting a short-lived standoff with the police.

Yesterday, 14:24
Neelu Berry, who was cleared of all charges, arriving at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court yesterday

A woman has been cleared of having “vexed” a priest and disrupting a Sunday service.

Yesterday, 12:42
Actor Jim Carter joins the

Actor Jim Carter, who plays Carson in Downton Abbey, joined protestors in West Hampstead in their bid to prevent a pair of six and seven storey tower blocks being built on their doorstep.

Yesterday, 12:34
Natalia Czekaj died after being stabbed more than 20 times by James Richardson

The loved ones of a barmaid who was stabbed more than 20 times during a frenzied attack say they have been left “disgusted” by the British justice system after a judge said her killer should only spend four years in jail because he is an alcoholic.

Yesterday, 08:00
Alex Lyons with her children Oscar, five, and Benjy, three.

 Picture: Nigel Sutton

A loophole allowing families to get their children into the most popular primary schools despite living miles outside catchment areas is set to be closed by Haringey Council following complaints from parents and carers.

Wed, 13:46
Camden Borough Commander CS Penny Banham. Picture: Polly Hancock

Camden’s new top cop has criticised proposals put forward by Hampstead residents to fund their own police officers – saying it would “not set a good precedent” for the rest of London.

Wed, 11:18
Athlone House, taken in 2011. Picture: Michael Hammerson

The owners of historic Athlone House near Hampstead Heath are to take their bid to demolish the mansion to the High Court.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder