Barnet Council has asked Community Barnet to support community organisations seeking to make “Right to Bid” proposals for the former Friern Barnet Library Building, which is currently occupied by a community library “squat”.
Barnet Council decided to close the library last year, after which the building was occupied by a group wanting to preserve a community library on the site. Now the council has asked Community Barnet to help community groups put together bids to run a community facility permanently.
Councillor Robert Rams, Cabinet Member for Customer Access and Partnerships, said: “We have been able to support a very successful community run library in Hampstead Garden Suburb, in large part because local residents have a fully accountable and effectively organised body that we can provide with public assets.
“I’d very much like to see a similar body in Friern Barnet and Community Barnet seems perfectly placed to support groups of local residents in becoming properly established and able to develop a “Right to Bid” proposal. I understand that they have already had an approach from a potential group. Ideally we would only have a single bid but we could consider more than one.”
As the next step in the Right to Bid process, the council will confirm its intention to market the building at Cabinet Resources Committee in February. Bids cannot be formally invited before that decision.
“I’d like to stress,” said Councillor Rams, “that because of the success of the One Barnet procurement process we have more contractual savings than we expected and the council is in a different financial position than when we started our library review. We also have slightly less pressure on our capital budget which gives us the scope to look favourably on bids for the building from local residents.”