Search

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.

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-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.”

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

60 minutes ago
Sophie Walker.  This image is copyright Fiona Hanson 2016©.

London mayoral candidate, Sophie Walker, has made a formal complaint against Barnet Council after scores of voters were turned away from ballot boxes across the borough.

The application sends alerts and results directly to the clinician's smartphone.

The Royal Free NHS Trust has defended its decision to share the medical records of 1.6 million patients with Google whilst piloting a new healthcare application.

There has been chaos in Barnet polling stations. Photo: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Barnet Council are urging residents to go back if they were unable to vote this morning

Yesterday, 15:16
Police arrived at the Hornsey Tavern. Photo: Crouch End TV

A man who was stabbed in the stomach area rushed into a nearby pub in Hornsey where his ‘life was saved’ by a nurse who happened to be there.

Yesterday, 10:41
Police were called to reports of a stabbing

Police responded after a man was stabbed on High Street in Hornsey yesterday evening at 9pm

Tue, 22:32
Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward will remain at the helm after seeing off a challenge from Cllr Sally Gimson

There will be no change at the top of Camden Council after leader Sarah Hayward saw off a challenge from within and defeated Labour rival Sally Gimson.

Tue, 19:08
Tom Franklin with supporters, including Green Party mayoral candidate Sian Berry, outside court

Eight campaigners cleared of any wrongdoing for their part in an arms fair protest may be dragged back to court after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lodged an appeal.

Tue, 18:06
Advertising banners on lampposts in Haverstock Hill

Residents in Belsize Park say large estate agents banners which have gone up on lampposts throughout the area are an “ugly” eyesore and should not have been allowed by Camden.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

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

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe