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Friends of Muswell Hill library criticise 'undemocratic' consultation

PUBLISHED: 12:08 16 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:06 16 June 2016

The grade-II listed building has been home to a library since 1931. Photo: Polly Hancock

The grade-II listed building has been home to a library since 1931. Photo: Polly Hancock

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Campaigners are revolting against a 'false choice' in the consultation on whether the service should be moved from its grade II-listed building.

There are two choices: the first for the library to stay in the historic building – with no investment for disability access – and the second is to move the library to a new building.

Haringey Council announced its preferred choice was to move the library to the site of the former Green Man pub on Muswell Hill, which will have level access for wheelchair and pushchair users.

But the Friends say the options in the consultation are a “false choice” - as there is no option for the original building to be adapted for greater disabled access.

A petition to “save Muswell Hill Library” has reached almost 2,500 signatures.

Friends chairman George Danker said: “This is not a democratic process at all. The council has a duty to consult on all the variable options – not just their own ideas.”

Chris Roche of Architects 11.04, based in Muswell Hill, estimates the library building can be equipped with a lift, a disabled toilet and better disabled access for £60,000.

But Haringey Council’s feasibility report says these modifications would cost £680,000.

Mr Danker said: “It’s the only public building in Muswell Hill and so many people enjoy using it.

“There isn’t going to be same experience in any other place and it really is sad that it’s coming to this - that a Labour council is selling major public assets.”

The 25-year-old chairman, who was The Times Sudoko championship in 2011, believes the building is special and a place where the community can come together.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, has written to the council to argue the library should stay put.

She wrote: “I am very concerned that plans to move the library to the site of the old Green Man Pub would lead to the loss of this much-loved historic building that has been home to a library since 1931.

“I would strongly oppose any attempts to sell off this site and take it out of public use.

“The current consultation offers two possible options of remaining in the existing non-accessible building or moving to a new site.

“The Friends of Muswell Hill Library have proposed a third option of carrying out accessibility improvements to the existing site, which they say they have fully costed at £60,000.

“I would urge the council to explore this option in further detail.”

Haringey Cllr Bernice Vanier said: “Making Muswell Hill Library accessible to people in wheelchairs and pushchairs with a lift to the first floor, accessible toilets, and improvements to the building would cost at least £680,000. That figure came from independent specialists who studied how much it would cost to make the library accessible to all. It is completely wrong and misleading to suggest it would only cost £60,000.

“I am proud Haringey has kept all of its nine libraries open unlike many other councils in London and I’m confident in the changes we are proposing to give Muswell Hill a library which is accessible to all residents.”

- To sign the petition, visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-muswell-hill-library

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