Lynne Featherstone MP visits Muswell Hill Library, as petition signatures reach almost 2000

Lynne Featherstone MP with Branch Librarian Joyce Rowe

Lynne Featherstone MP last week visited Muswell Hill Library, to take a look at the facilities and to discuss the future of the library.

The library, which has between 100 and 350 users per day, is now providing downloadable books, magazines and newspapers, as well as internet services and events for children.

During the visit, a local resident and library user expressed support for the campaign, and told the MP how important the services are for her and others, particularly local children.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green started a campaign to save the library late last year, after Labour-run Haringey Council’s budget plans revealed an intention to relocate the service.

Almost 2000 residents have signed the Liberal Democrat MP’s petition, which calls on Labour-run Haringey Council to remove the proposed closure and relocation from their budget plans.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It was great to visit the library and see first-hand how valuable the services are to local residents – from young children taking part in activities, to elderly residents accessing newspapers and the internet.

“Almost 2000 local residents have backed the campaign to keep the library services in the historic building on Queens Avenue. It would be much better to install a lift in the current building – which is the only thing it lacks – rather than undergo a full relocation.

“Together, we are calling on Haringey Labour to withdraw their plans to relocate the service when the budget proposals go before the full Council next week.”

Muswell Hill Library plans challenged following discovering of legal document

 Lynne Featherstone MP, Lib Dem councillors Gail Engert, Pippa Connor and Viv Ross, protesting outside the library in Muswell HillLynne Featherstone MP and a Liberal Democrat councillor have challenged Labour’s plans to relocate Muswell Hill Library after Cllr Gail Engert uncovered an important legal document.

The Land Registry document for Muswell Hill Library contains what is known as a covenant. The document states that the land ‘shall not (or any part) be used for any purpose other than that of a Branch Public Library or other public non-trading purpose.’

The Lib Dems believe that the document means Labour plans to relocate the library, as revealed in the draft budget for Haringey Council, are not sound.

Local MP Lynne Featherstone has been campaigning to save the library after it was revealed in the draft budget that Labour planned to close the library and move the service to an unspecified location. Ms Featherstone’s petition attracted 1318 signatures in just a few weeks.

The opposition politicians believe that the newly revealed legal document means that any plans to use the library building for another purpose or to sell the site off could be open to legal challenge.

Lynne Featherstone MP, comments:

“Under pressure from local Lib Dems and residents, some Labour councillors are already backtracking and saying that the library will remain where it is. Over 1300 residents have signed our petition, which shows just how much the service means to people locally.

“The discovery of the covenant adds even more pressure on Labour to think again. Local residents, Lib Dem councillors and I will keep campaigning until the plans are officially withdrawn from the council’s budget proposals.”

Gail Engert, Local Lib Dem councillor for Muswell Hill, comments: 

“James Edmondson donated the library land to the borough back in the 1890s with the clear intention it should be used for the public good. The site was first used as a fire station and later the wonderful listed building we see today was constructed to give the people of Muswell Hill access to books and learning.

“This legal document clearly states that Muswell Hill Library site should be used for a library. The Liberal Democrats believe that Labour should respect this legal document and James Edmondson’s wishes and keep Muswell Hill Library where it is.”

1200 local residents back MP’s campaign to save Muswell Hill Library

 Lynne Featherstone MP, Lib Dem councillors Gail Engert, Pippa Connor and Viv Ross, protesting outside the library in Muswell HillOver 1200 local residents have signed Lynne Featherstone MP’s petition to save Muswell Hill Library.

The petition calls on Haringey Council to scrap their plans to relocate the services provided at the current site on Queens Avenue.

The Labour-run council’s plans were exposed before Christmas, as part of their budget proposals. The proposal made no mention of where the services will be relocated to – sparking fears that Muswell Hill may lose the local library services.

A local Labour councillor, and council cabinet member, then suggested at a meeting that the Labour-run council were tempted to sell off the library building.

But the weight of public opinion has already had an impact, with the Haringey Labour leader now saying on twitter that there would be: “no sale unless and until new site secured in central MH and new library built.”

The Liberal Democrat MP will continue to campaign to keep the service in the historic building on Queens Avenue, and for money to be spent improving facilities there – rather than spending money on relocation.

Muswell Hill councillor, Gail Engert, comments:

“Local people love and are proud of their historic library which is an important symbol of their treasured Muswell Hill community.

“There is no justification for proposing to move the library to another possible site other than a cynical move on the part of Labour-run Haringey Council to sell it off and cash in on what they see as a cash-cow to fund their political ambitions elsewhere in the borough.”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Muswell Hill library is a very popular local services. There are clubs for children, and a great range of resources for other users.

“Residents that I speak to on the doorsteps are greatly concerned about losing the service and the building. And they’re deeply sceptical about the relocation plans. Haringey Labour have promised replacement services before, which have never materialised.

“The Haringey Labour leader’s statement on twitter shows the campaign is working. But surely, it is better to improve the current library, by installing a lift for instance, than building a new one in another location. I will keep campaigning with residents on this.”

Lynne Featherstone MP launches campaign to save Muswell Hill Library

 Lynne Featherstone MP, Lib Dem councillors Gail Engert, Pippa Connor and Viv Ross, protesting outside the library in Muswell HillLynne Featherstone and local Liberal Democrat councillors have launched a campaign to save Muswell Hill Library, an historic listed building.

The future of the library is in doubt after the Labour-run council announced plans to relocate the library. The plans are due to go ahead even though the council admits in the budget report that the library is ‘well used and popular.’

No alternative location for the library has so far been identified, raising fears that the library will close with no replacement in place. The Labour council’s draft budget only has vague references to alternative sites and suggests the library site could be used for development.

Ms Featherstone is calling on the local community to support the Lib Dem campaign to keep the library on Queens Avenue open. She fought to save Muswell Hill Library from closure by Labour in the 1990’s and is determined to fight to save it again.

Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, comments:

“Budget papers show Haringey Labour’s clear intention to close Muswell Hill Library. And they haven’t given any assurance about where the replacement would be – leaving local residents very concerned about the future of the service.

“Libraries play such an important role in local communities, providing space for people to meet, hosting community events and giving people access to books, newspapers, computers and more.

“We need the library in Muswell Hill – and money should be spent making the existing library more modern and accessible, rather than relocating the service. That’s why I’ve launched a campaign to protect the service from closure. I hope the local community will support the campaign.”

Gail Engert, Lib Dem councillor for Muswell Hill, comments:

“I am very worried that the council’s budget papers imply that Labour has plans to use the library for a development without giving a firm commitment to keep a local library service in Muswell Hill.

“The closure of Muswell Hill Library, which occupies a precious listed building, would be a great loss to the local community. We will be fighting hard to keep the library open.”

Local Liberal Democrats celebrate refurbished children’s library after successful campaign

Lynne and Gail reading with children at Muswell Hill LibraryLocal Liberal Democrats were on Friday celebrating the transformation of Muswell Hill Children’s Library after a successful four year battle to get it refurbished.

Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillors Gail Engert, Jim Jenks, and Martin Newton were chatting with excited children and parents at Friday’s special opening of the new space, which now has a medieval theme to go with a beautifully restored mural.

The children’s section, which until recently was in a sad state, with peeling wallpaper and cracked walls, finally got it’s much needed refurbishment after a successful campaign by local Liberal Democrats.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“This place is just magical! And what a transformation from the rather sorry state it was in before, with peeling wallpaper and cracked walls.

“They have really done a fantastic job, and the kids who are here today clearly love it – and surely that’s what it’s all about!”

Muswell Hill Councillor Gail Engert adds:

“It’s been a long, hard battle, but I’m so proud to say it’s been successfully fought.

“This space, where I am sure hundreds and hundreds of local children will discover magical worlds and the joy of reading, will be treasured for years to come. What a success!”

Muswell Hill Library: Labour delay improvements yet again

Not good news about Muswell Hill Library – promised plans to refurbish Muswell Hill Library and provide vital disabled access that were due to take place this year have been postponed yet again by Haringey Council.

As my colleague Gail Engert (Muswell Hill ward) put it:

Muswell Hill Library is in a lamentable state with wallpaper hanging off the walls, toilets in an unacceptable condition and the top floor not accessible to disabled residents. Residents and local Liberal Democrat councillors have been campaigning for years to have this listed building returned to a fit state and accessible to all.

“Yet again the Labour Council have reneged on their promises and let residents down.”

It could only happen in Haringey, part 94

More problems with the plans to redevelop / expand Muswell Hill Library as it turns out that the latest plans to sell off land at the back of the site to pay for the work … wouldn’t leave enough land left over for the library to expand after all!

In other words – sell off land to pay for work that they can’t be done because, er… the land has been sold off. So very Labour Haringey!

As my colleague, Cllr Gail Engert (Muswell Hill) put it, “It is ludicrous to think that the very development that was meant to pay for the extension is now the very barrier stopping this happening. Original plans showed the library and the development sharing the land equally – now the development takes nearly all the land, leaving the library with very little.”

Muswell Hill Library update

Well – finally local residents are being invited in to look at the proposed scheme for Muswell Hill Library. The open evening is Wednesday 14 May at the library, 7pm – 8.30pm.

We are being invited to comment on the schemes being proposed by the architect. At least, thanks the my Liberal Democrat councillor colleague Gail Engert (Muswell Hill ward), the ridiculous consultation period offered by Haringey Council of just two weeks has now, after her persistence, been extended to a month. Still not long enough – but at least better than was the case.

Residents will be able to respond to the consultation by completing a form on the Haringey Council website – or through forms at the library. To see details of the proposed schemes, take a look at

The indicative timetable supplied by Haringey Council is:

End of June /early July 2008: submission of planning application
September 2008: Planning decision due
October –December 2008: marketing and disposal of site
January 2009: receipt of capital proceeds for expenditure on the library

Muswell Hill Library: Labour cuts funds

Bad news on Muswell Hill Library this week – as Labour-run Haringey Council has gone back on its promises to put in more money to give the library a much needed bit of care and attention.

There were worrying signs back in July last year, when at a public meeting the Director of Libraries didn’t really seem to know what was going on with the library plans – and it has now been years and years since Labour first started talking about restoring and rennovating the building (e.g. see here).

Which brings us to this week – and Labour have gone back on plans to put in extra money for Muswell Hill Library. As my colleague Gail (Muswell Hill ward councillor) said:

Muswell Hill Library has seen years of neglect by Haringey Labour and again the only commitment is another patch-up job. I am deeply disappointed that the library will not be extended after much consultation of residents and library users.

Muswell Hill Library and Hornsey Central Hospital

Muswell Hill and Highgate Neighbourhood Assembly – centred for its theme on older people in the area. Featuring were both the plans for Hornsey Hospital to become a polyclinic and the abandoning of the idea from Haringey for a restaurant in the centre of Muswell Hill Library – at which we cheered as the detailed case had never been made for it.

On the rest of the plans for the library (which is much in need of care) – there was still no timetable at all – and the Director of Libraries who was there didn’t know the timetable and didn’t have information about some of the basics of the plans. Not impressive. And the tragedy is that some of the ideas that have been talked about have been excellent – but it’s all being lost in a mess of vagueness and foot dragging.

And then the poor woman presenting the Hornsey Hospital update got it in the neck for the shameful consultation process taking place at present on the local Primary Care Strategy. Sue Hessel said that only seven people attended the first meeting and the second which is tomorrow night may attract just as few. They said they were happy to go to other meetings if invited but as I pointed out – having a meeting isn’t consultation – nothing like. So I’ve written my Highgate Handbook and Muswell Hill Flyer column on this issue (will post after it is published) as local people need to know what is going on.

Update: my article about polyclinics is now here.