New chapter begins as two Hampstead libraries saved

A new chapter will begin for two embattled libraries after residents won council funding to keep them open – but the future of a third library remains in doubt.

The Keats Community Library group is poised to take over Heath Library, while youth organisation The Winchester Project will take up the reigns at Belsize Library, when Camden Council pulls out in April.

But despite receiving donation pledges from author Alan Bennett and journalist Joan Bakewell, Primrose Hill residents are waiting to hear if their bid for �50,000 transitional funding to keep Chalk Farm Library running will be successful.

Steven Bobasch, of Keats Community Library group, said the community had come far since he hatched a plan over the garden fence with neighbour, actor Lee Montague, to save the library in Keats Grove, Hampstead.

“Our focus is very much on children, the elderly and people who need help with their literacy, because that is what the community should be doing – working together.”

He also thanked the Ham&High for donating 200 review books to help stock the library’s newly cleared shelves.

“We’re really very grateful for the support the Ham&High has shown us in this difficult time,” he said

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Paul Perkins, director of The Winch, said: “It is still early days, but we are really pleased.”

But Mick Hudspeth, of Primrose Hill Community Association, said the group remains locked in talks with the council over the lease and tender deadline to save Chalk Farm library.

Camden culture chief, Cllr Tulip Siddiq, said: “This just shows how Camden residents are willing to step up and help run their well loved libraries. The Winch and Keats have shown this passion for their community.