Library campaigners in Haringey slam council’s ‘invalid’ consultion

Pensioners protest at Muswell Hill Library

Pensioners protest at Muswell Hill Library - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Pensioners have slammed Haringey Council claiming a public consultation on the future of the borough’s libraries is ‘invalid’.

Pensioners protest at Muswell Hill Library

Pensioners protest at Muswell Hill Library - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Library campaigners met outside Muswell Hill Library on Saturday fearing the opening hours across the borough’s libraries will be slashed.

They said papers for the public consultation which began on December 19 only arrived in libraries on in the second week of January before a final deadline on January 22.

Proposals within Haringey’s budget included slashing opening times from 57 hours to 36 at the library in Queens Avenue.

Janet Shapiro, speaking on behalf of the Hornsey Pensioners Action Group (HPAG), said: “I have found out that most libraries did not get the forms for a paper response in December, and most ran out of forms. The consultation is invalidated by this.”

She added: “Many of our group don’t have internet access at all while some can only access their email at their local library. Many depend upon the helpful training they can get there.”

Celia Bower, a retired Muswell Hill resident, said: “I’m very upset about the proposal. If you live here it’s quite difficult to get out to other places. It’s amazing how isolating this is at the top of the hill.”

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Kathryn Dean, secretary of the Friends of Muswell Hill Library, said three out of eight terminals at Alexandra Palace Library were not working and the printer had been out of order for some time, making access to the consultation difficult. She added: “The proposal to reduce opening times is not what the council should be doing at a time when they are requiring people to do their business online. They should keep the present times and improve provision of computer terminals, many of which are often out of repair.”

A spokesman from Haringey Council denied the request. He said: “Our budget consultation has closed and we have no plans to reopen it. As with all of our consultations it was actively promoted through local media, social media, partnership organisations and emails to residents.

“While the consultation is promoted heavily online with the vast majority of responses received that way, paper copies of the consultation were available in libraries and as soon as we were aware of one library running out of consultation documents we ensured replacements were delivered as soon as possible.”

He added: ““Our recent budget consultation outlined a number of proposals to help us save £20 million in the next two years. The proposals covered a wide range of Council services and at this moment in time no decisions have been made on which ideas for savings will be progressed.”