Friern Barnet Library, The Court Case and Preliminary Comments

Tomorrow – 10 am in the Barnet County Court, is the hearing for the possession proceedings Barnet Council have brought against the occupants of Friern Barnet Library. The library had been reopened as a community asset during the course of the occupation and as I understand it is currently stocked with over 5000 books.
A few preliminary notes about these proceedings.
The first is that the Council have failed to produce conclusive evidence of ownership – they still haven’t produced the title deeds which seem to have gone on a walkabout somewhere – despite several requests on this matter from campaigners and from those who are in possession of the building.
The second is that the Council hadn’t (until yesterday) actually explicitly asked for vacant possession.
And the third is that the Council have impliedly accepted the presence of the occupiers by meeting with the occupiers on the premises.
These points are in tension with the Council’s claim that the individuals on the premises are trespassers.
I’ll be at the hearing tomorrow and reporting on the consequences.
From what I understand, it’ll be a busy courtroom – quite a few large media organisations are planning on being present. In the meantime, the Save Friern Barnet Library group and the occupiers have received correspondence which says that the Council has ended its negotiations, does not want to be in further discussions with the group and is now seeking vacant possession of the premises to have discussions about selling the premises.
It’s clear the Council will now only consider an outright purchase of the premises by the community and is not willing to discuss any alternative options.
It’s amusing that the Council is seeking to sell property, and is relying upon this point to seek vacant possession when it has so far been unable to produce the conclusive proof it has ownership (the title deeds).

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