Search

Barnet library campaigners slam security costs

PUBLISHED: 16:42 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:20 05 December 2017

Campaigners have slammed Barnet Council's changes to its library service claiming guarding unstaffed libraries will cost £1 million a year after current costs emerged during a public meeting. Picture: SAVE BARNET LIBRARIES

Campaigners have slammed Barnet Council's changes to its library service claiming guarding unstaffed libraries will cost £1 million a year after current costs emerged during a public meeting. Picture: SAVE BARNET LIBRARIES

Archant

Campaigners battling changes to Barnet Council’s libraries have claimed the authority will spend more than a million pounds on security guards, money they say would be better spent on librarians.

In February protests were sparked after Barnet announced drastic changes to the borough’s libraries including closures, the introduction of self-service libraries with no staff that exclude unaccompanied under-15s and smaller libraries featuring more commercial space for rent.

Barnet expected the scheme to save £2.2million of £61.5m the council needs to cut by 2020 but meant it could keep its 14 libraries open, boosting hours and maintaining access for children.

The council now pays security guards to police unstaffed libraries, a move Save Barnet Libraries campaigners say will end up costing more than £1m a year.

The claim emerged after a public meeting between councillors responsible for libraries on November 15 during which it was revealed at the end of September security costs amounted to £70,000 with the amount set to go up by £25k per month.

Barnet has since disputed the claim costs could approach £1m over a twelve month period.

Library user Erini Rodis said: “I can’t believe they are paying so much on security staff when they could just pay for librarians again. These out of touch councillors obviously don’t realise the importance of community space or the level of anger this scheme has generated. We cannot let these short-sighted decision makers waste any more of our money.”

Campaigner Theresa Musgrove said: “The entire library cuts programme has been a complete fiasco: a service wrecked for no significant gain, and a grossly irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money.”

Fellow campaigner Emily Burnham called on the council to put an immediate halt to the ‘disastrous plans’ and restore a ‘properly staffed and resourced service’.

On the security guards, Zara Lobley, 12, a pupil at Archer Academy in East Finchley said: “It has really changed the atmosphere.”

However, Cllr Reuben Thompstone defended the changes. He said: “In the initial months of the changes to our library services, security staff have been used during a transitional period to help provide additional reassurance while residents become familiar with self-service opening.

“We consulted residents and redesigned a library service allowing us to keep open all the borough’s libraries - two of which are in brand new buildings. We have also been able to maintain our home, mobile and digital library resources.

“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,” he added.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 15:26

South Hampstead Junior School pupils have marked 60 years since the school moved into its own separate site at 12 Netherhall Gardens in 1957.

Yesterday, 12:51

Plans to restore a Grade II*-listed building which saw 600 objections from the community have been given the go ahead by Haringey Council planning chiefs.

Yesterday, 10:31

King’s Cross was once a hotspot for crack cocaine and prostitution – now an independent study (albeit one commissioned by a developer) has concluded that flattening and rebuilding it has been good for the area.

Yesterday, 09:31

A junior school teacher has featured on Channel 4 TV show ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas’ coming runner up in a yuletide cake decorating competition.

Mon, 13:34

Camden Council is set to increase council tax next year by nearly five per cent.

Mon, 10:58

Jailed mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘can see some light’ at the end of the tunnel after she avoided being dragged back to court following a visit by foreign secretary Boris Johnson to her family in Iran.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weather warnings have been issued across London following heavy snowfall overnight and this morning.

Friday, December 8, 2017

A man in his 60s has died after a fire at a ground floor flat in Alexandra Place, St John’s Wood this morning.

PROMOTED CONTENT

One of London’s most popular animal welfare charities rolled out the red carpet for glamorous guests and their beloved pet dogs as their annual fundraiser returned.

An opportunity of a lifetime has arisen for media-savvy students at City of Westminster College and the College of North West London.

Education editor James Scott speaks to Sarah Creasey about life as headteacher of Parliament Hill School.

Newsletter Sign Up

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