Future of Muswell Hill Library: an open letter to Cabinet Member Cllr Arthur

Cllr Gail Engert, Haringey Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition, has written a letter to Labour Cabinet Member Jason Arthur on the future of Muswell Hill Library.

Caroline Pidgeon, Dawn Barnes and local councillors campaigning to save the library

In the letter sent on Tuesday 22nd March, Cllr Engert calls on the Labour Cabinet Member to include as an option for consultation improving the current Muswell Hill Library site to make it accessible. This option is not currently due to be included in the proposed consultation on the future of the Library, which will start in May. (Link to webcast footage of Cllr Arthur being questioned on the consultation on the future of Muswell Hill Library by Cllr Pippa Connor at the Full Council meeting on 17th March 2016 (01:49:30): http://bit.ly/1Rxu7MQ)

Instead the Labour-run Council will put forward the options of leaving Muswell Hill Library on its current site with no accessibility improvements, or moving the Library to a new site with the current site sold-off.

In the letter, Cllr Engert argues that land behind the current Library should be sold to pay for improvements.

Cllr Gail Engert, Haringey Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition, comments:

“I was very disappointed to learn that the Labour-run Council is not currently considering making improvements to Muswell Hill Library. Particularly, as in the past the local community had been assured by Labour Cabinet Members that money from the sale of land behind the library site would be used for improvements.

“I have written to the current Labour councillor who is responsible for libraries and called on him to include a third option in the consultation on the future of the library that would see the current library made accessible. The local community love Muswell Hill Library, it is a wonderful building and should be kept and improved for the local community."

Open letter to Cllr Arthur regarding the future of Muswell Hill Library

Dear Cllr Arthur,

I am writing to you to formally request a change to the consultation on the future of Muswell Hill Library.

At pre-engagement meetings and at the Full Council meeting last week you have said that the consultation on the future of the library will begin in May.

My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I are of the firm view that the consultation must include, not only the two options you have talked about at the pre-engagement meetings (keep the library on the current site with no improvements, or move the library to the site of the Old Green Man pub and sell-off the current library and the land behind it) but also a third option.

We believe the public should be given the third option of the current library being improved and extended with disabled access via a new lift with the costs of the work met, from the receipt of selling part of the land to the rear of the current library. We note that the Friends of Muswell Hill Library have already made it clear they would prefer this option and are concerned that it has not been put forward, thus far.

The Feasibility Report estimates that the land at the rear of the library is worth upwards of £1.75m. This sum does not include the sale of the library building itself.

Including this third option would also accord with previous commitments made to residents of Muswell Hill. The late Councillor George Meehan, when Leader of the Council, had promised that £500k from any sale of land behind the current library site would be used to extend, improve and provide full accessibility to the existing Muswell Hill library (I also have paperwork, including cabinet minutes which confirm this commitment). Obviously building costs have risen since this commitment in 2008, but so has the value of the land as laid out above.

My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I call on you to keep the promises made by previous Cabinet Members and ensure that residents have this third option included in the forthcoming consultation.
 
Kind regards,

Gail Engert

Haringey Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition and Councillor for Muswell Hill


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