Adult college dashes council hopes that it will provide home for Hampstead Garden Suburb library

PUBLISHED: 18:30 22 August 2011 | UPDATED: 22:40 22 August 2011

»Barnet Council’s plans to find an alternative home for Hampstead Garden Suburb Library have fallen through.

Despite council assurances that talks are still ongoing, bosses at The Institute – held up as a lifeline for the service – have told the Ham&High they will not house the collection.

Chief executive of the adult learning centre in East Finchley, Joy Solomon, said she had never held any detailed discussions with the council.

“We (the Institute) had a meeting and decided it was not a satisfactory solution.

“It’s not that we’re not prepared to help, it just doesn’t meet the needs of mothers, children or elderly people,” she said. “To be honest, our role in the library thing is so marginal that we were kind of the flea which belonged to the leg of the dog. It was just a sentence or something that was discussed. It was never a big thing.”

When Barnet’s cabinet approved closure plans last month, libraries boss Councillor Robert Rams claimed that the council had “very positive conversations” with the centre which was “very keen for it to happen”.

Library campaigner Brian Ingram, of Brookland Rise, said: “This just shows the way Barnet works, they just make statements which are nonsense.”

Deborah Warland, leader of the Save Our Suburb Library campaign, said that the botched deal did not trouble them as the group was still looking to keep the 60-year-old library open in its current location in Market Place.

“We didn’t want the library to move to the Institute because we wanted to keep the library where it is. The only form of transport was a logistical nightmare for elderly members so we will just keep going,” she said.

The group has mustered 30 volunteers to help run the library. But the council has told the campaign that it has to run the entire operation on its own if it wants to stay open.

Mrs Warland said: “For the betterment of all school children, all the reading groups for the under-fives, it seems crazy to suggest a volunteer service can fulfil all those obligations.

“Barnet wants to do everything on the cheap without putting anything into our community service.”

The council is locked into paying £50,000 in rent for the building over the next five years. It is welcoming bids from local groups to run the service before it closes on October 31.

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