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Campaigners respond after Highgate Library escapes relocation

PUBLISHED: 12:23 14 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:43 14 September 2017

The Friends of Highgate Library meet in its Shepherd's Hill address. Picture: FOHL

The Friends of Highgate Library meet in its Shepherd's Hill address. Picture: FOHL

Archant

On Monday campaigners from Highgate Library claimed victory after Jackson’s Lane Arts Centre withdrew an offer to share its space with the Shepherd’s Hill service.

Here the Friends of Highate Library outline their response to the news.

We at Friends of Highgate Library (FOHL) are delighted to hear that Highgate Library will continue to serve the community in its current beautiful building.

The Friends campaigned for months against the damaging proposal to sell Highgate Library and put the service into Jacksons Lane Arts Centre (JLAC).

Nobody, apart from a few HLAG committee members, were ever consulted about JLAC’s proposal to help fund its refurbishment by selling off Highgate Library and moving the library service to the JLAC building.

Pressed by the community to act and realising we could not do this within HLAG, I set up FOHL with other local library users.

I organised a petition against the sell-off which gathered over 2000 names: over 800 at Fair in the Square alone, and almost 1600 online.

We printed and delivered hundreds of leaflets so people would know what was happening.

We built a website and set up social media sites.

We met Catherine West MP and shared our concerns with her, which she took up with Haringey.

We met with the Head of Libraries and Customer Services. We met with JLAC’s Board and we attended meeting after meeting.

We checked out the feasibility plan when it was made available to the public, consulted with architects and found all the options, faulty.

When there was a poorly advertised public meeting (note: not a consultation), we flyered the entire area, to ensure that you the public, knew it was happening.

When over 200 people attended, we knew it was worth the long hours and lost weekends.

It simply cannot be said that ‘everything was done properly’ when in fact there was no public consultation before the feasibility study was funded with tax payers’ money.

In fact, it was made very clear that there would be no public consultation by Haringey, if the feasibility proved successful.

Neither can it be right that Haringey Council voted in principle to sell off Highgate Library, before consulting local people and establishing the basic facts or seeing the results of the feasibility study.

Finally, and most importantly, Haringey Council said in the article that ‘without relocation and a capital receipt from selling the existing library site, no additional funding will be available for significant improvements to or investment in Highgate Library’.

Yet £24,000 was found for a feasibility study for a plan which the community clearly opposed.

We will continue to campaign for our precious library to enhance and develop it.

We will be hosting our own feasibility meeting for a future vision for Highgate Library.

We don’t have £24,000 from Haringey Council to fund this, but we do have local support and architects creating plans to match ideas, in response to our local library users’ survey.

We are collating ideas for classes and community activities, which will make use of all the space and the unique garden Highgate Library has to offer.

Let us know your ideas.

To everyone who has supported us and has been a part of this campaign, I would like to say a huge thank you.

Libraries are one of the last free, open for all, inter-generational community, safe spaces left, and I and FOHL are delighted that this will remain the case for future generations in Highgate.

Tamara Cincik

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