Campaigners threaten legal action to ‘save’ Muswell Hill Library

Activists Dr Wolfgang Kieran and Chris Roche hand petition to Catherine West MP, who supports their

Activists Dr Wolfgang Kieran and Chris Roche hand petition to Catherine West MP, who supports their campaign. Photo: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Activists say the library must stay in its Grade II-listed building – but Haringey Council’s choice is to move the service to the site of the former Green Man pub on Muswell Hill

And the Friends argue Haringey is offering a “false choice” in its consultation on the library, which closes towards the end of August.

The first option is for the library to stay put, with no investment for disability access, and the second is to move it to a building with wheelchair and pushchair access.

Haringey Council says disability modifications to the existing building, home to a library since 1931, would cost £680,000 – but the Friends put the figure at just £60,000.

Friends chairman George Danker spoke at a Haringey Council meeting last week.

He said: “We are here tonight to discuss the future of Muswell Hill Library because the public does not believe either of the options presented to the public are viable.

“The library in its current form does not meet basic requirements for a public building, while the proposed relocation is motivated solely by an immoral desire to sell off the most historic and significant building in our town.

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“Our 3,000 signatories are furious that the only viable option – for minor improvements to the existing building – never appeared on the consultation due to vastly overstated cost estimates.”

He added: “The decision not to include a third option on the consultation is highly questionable from a legal perspective given the evidence that cost estimates have been inflated several times larger than their true value. We feel that to protect the best interests of Muswell Hill residents, legal action may be necessary. [...]

“If Haringey Council does not decide to change course, we will have no option but to trigger a full judicial review immediately following the decision to move the library.”

But Cllr Bernice Vanier responded: “The current library building has poor access, no lift to the first floor’s children library, and no disabled toilets. [...] it’s also an ageing building and in need of repair.

“We have done a feasibility study, carried out by our independent experts, that shows it will cost at least £680,000 to make these improvements.

“We dispute the idea that you can do quality work in a building like that for £60,000.”

Cllr Vanier added after the meeting: “I urge anyone who doubts our commitment to deliver a new library in Muswell Hill to visit Marcus Garvey library in Tottenham which was re-opened a few weeks ago.

“While many councils close their libraries, I am proud that Haringey has kept ours open.”