Campaigners’ delight as Highgate Library wins a two-year reprieve

Highgate Library will remain open for the next two years despite fears it was on the brink of closure due to council budget cuts.

Cllr Tulip Siddiq, Camden’s lead member for culture, offered the library, in Chester Road, a two-year reprieve last Monday night.

The Friends of Highgate Library said it will give them enough time to come up with a way of keeping it open and financially viable.

Treasurer Linda Lefevre said: “I’m delighted. It gives us a breathing space and chance to ensure its future.

“I have to say I wasn’t optimistic but it is a great thrill to be told this. It gives us a lot of room to make the library self-sustaining.

“We were worried we wouldn’t be able to do that before the end of March.”

Savings have had to be made across Camden’s library service, which included handing over Belsize, Primrose Hill and Heath libraries to the community to run.

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The libraries consultation in 2011 confirmed Highgate and Regent’s Park libraries would need to change the way they are run.

It has been suggested that part of Highgate Library should be leased to provide an income of up to �35,000.

Speaking at the full council meeting, Cllr Siddiq, Cabinet member for culture, said: “As a result of cuts to our overall council budget, my earlier decision was to keep Highgate Library as a council funded library, but to make savings in the overall budget by bringing in extra revenue from a local organisation that could share the library space.

“I have been in discussions with ward councillors, the friends of the library, library users and community members and have realised that more time is needed in order to enable the right solution to be found. Therefore, I will be approaching my cabinet colleagues in December to ask if they will agree to defer the savings to 2015 instead of making the savings from next April.”

“So, for the next two years, the library budget will remain the same and this will give us breathing space to find a longer term sustainable solution to share the space in the building which will bring in revenue and help us reduce our overall costs on the building and staff.”

Highgate Library was the first public library in St Pancras and opened in October 1906.

It is a Grade II-listed building and has a covenant which requires it to provide a library service.

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