U-turn on Haringey library closures

THREE of Haringey’s best-loved libraries could be closed on Sundays in what is being branded as a “U-turn” by the ruling Labour party.

In the face of �85million of budget cuts, Haringey’s Labour party proudly announced it was one of the few London boroughs to save all nine of its libraries from the axe.

But the group has now been accused of “hoodwinking” residents by consulting on plans to shut Hornsey Library in Crouch End, Alexandra Park Library and the Marcus Garvey in Tottenham on Sundays.

The libraries currently all open between midday and 4pm – the change would make Wood Green the only library to open on Sundays in the whole borough.

Local Liberal Democrats have called for the consultation – which has now closed – to be extended and have criticised Labour’s promises that it was looking to expand the role of libraries in the community in the latest Haringey People magazine.

Lib Dem member for communities Cllr Gail Engert said: “Labour are clearly going back on their word. They said no library closures to local residents and now three of our best-loved libraries face closure on Sundays.

“I am disappointed the council tried to hoodwink the public into thinking that these valuable resources would not be touched by their cuts. Now we see the true picture.”

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Chris Meade runs the groundbreaking Unlibrary at the Hornsey site, a project into the continued use of the library where people can meet, use the resources and network with like-minded people.

He also criticised the move. “I think it would be a real shame because it’s an important space, which is part of people’s weekends,” he said.

“Being open at the weekend makes libraries more accessible to a while different group of people beyond the usual students and parents, so I think it’s a great time for it to be open, especially one at the heart of the community like Hornsey.”

Chairwoman of the Alexandra Park Library Friends, Angela Arney, said the building opens on Sundays because the Tagore Centre on the first floor have their meetings there anyway, so it made sense for the whole site to be open.

However, she added: “My aim would be to keep the library open and in comparison to closing the whole site, closing it on a Sunday is more realistic, but it does get used on a Sunday.”

Cabinet member for community services Cllr Dilek Dogus said: “The Lib Dems are in no position to talk about U-turns. We said no libraries will close and that remains. In fact we are looking at ways to increase the level of service and activities in each of our libraries.”