Campaigners have occupied Friern Barnet library in north London on the day it was set to close.
The Tory-run local council rushed to close the library’s doors today after its cabinet last night voted to shut it down. But around 30 protesters launched a sit-in in response.
Maureen Ivens, one of the occupiers and part of the Save Friern Library Campaign, spoke to Socialist Worker from inside the occupation.
“We’re a group of local residents—school students, local mums, a retired chap, unemployed people, a local teacher, an interpreter, an artist and others,” she said.
“We’ve fought for a year to convince the council to keep the library open. It’s used by ten local schools.
“They have the money to fund the library, but for political reasons they want to sell it.”
The council claims there is no need to worry about the library closing as it is to be replaced with a new library in North Finchley. But Maureen says the council has made claims like this before.
“They promised they would open a new library after the recently closed another, but it never happened,” she said. “This time they promised the same and we didn’t believe them.
“We’re protesting at the contempt the council has for local people.”
A crowd of supporters has gathered outside the library, including Unison union members, local councillors and other politicians. Some were reportedly passing food and water through an open window. Barnet Unison has sent a message of support.
The campaign previously gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition to keep the library open.
Update: The occupation is now over. The occupiers left the building after five hours to claps and cheers from the crowd.