CAMPAIGNERS calling for the former EMD building to be re-opened as a cinema protested in the rain yesterday.

The campaigners are against plans by the building's owners, evangelical Christian group Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), to convert the Hoe Street building into a church and community centre.

They want to see the building sold to a cinema operator or compulsory purchased by the council, but it is understood the authority would find it difficult to win an appeal against a compulsory purchase order of the site.

Politicians including two of the prospective general election candidates for the Walthamstow seat Farid Ahmed (Lib Dem) and Stella Creasy (Labour) joined yesterday's protest.

Cllr Liaquat Ali, who represents High Street ward, also attended the protest despite his Labour cabinet colleagues' support for a cinema on the Arcade site.

Bill Hodgson, of the McGuffin Film Society, organised the latest protest.

He said: "It is good to see that some politicians are now listening to local people and getting behind the campaign to save this unique cultural asset. "We want the council to assess UCKG's planning application as a matter of priority and not put it on the back burner as we enter an election year."

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