Hampstead Garden Suburb library handover to volunteers held up by paperwork delay

A volunteer army poised to take over the running of Hampstead Garden Suburb Library is in limbo just days before the proposed grand opening.

After the council announced last summer that it would close the library in Market Place, residents rallied round to keep it open.

“Our proposal was like manna from heaven,” said Jonathan Seres, co-chairman of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association library working group that led the bid and mustered a 50-strong team of volunteers.

He claims that residents running the library would save the local authority �90,000 a year.

A series of talks and proposals over a number of months culminated in an agreement with Barnet Council, which would see volunteers run the library and the council provide grants to buy books.

This verbal agreement was made at a meeting on February 6, but the council has still not sent the group the paperwork to finalise it.

A notice on the library door says the library is due to close on March 31.

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The community group had hoped for a “seamless” transition starting on April 1 but is now experiencing a “frustrating log-jam”.

“The delay has been frustrating but we received a possible April timetable today,” said Mr Seres on Tuesday.

“If it can be firmed up before the weekend, with one key point confirmed, we will be able to meet it.

“If the delay continues for six weeks and there is no library during that time I’ll be spitting blood.”

Computer training and CRB checks for the volunteers have been agreed.

The council has agreed to provide a grant to pay for new computers and an annual grant for up to three years.

A spokesman said the council was working towards a transfer of Hampstead Garden Suburb library service to the residents’ group by the end of April.