WALTHAM FOREST: Libraries to close

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: South Chingford Library South Chingford Library

LEADING councillors have approved plans to close two of the borough's libraries.

The proposals to shut the Harrow Green branch in Leytonstone and South Chingford in Hall Lane were rubber stamped by the council's cabinet at a meeting tonight.

Campaigners pleaded with the authority to consider alternatives but the Labour leadership claimed it was the only way to save money following cuts in its funding from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government.

The decision came despite a cross-party committee which concluded the proposals were based on flawed information and petitions signed by more than 7,000 residents.

Protester Vi Gostling, who has been a Labour member for 62 years, said she was “in despair” at her party colleagues' decision.

The 94-year-old said afterwards: “They are losing an opportunity in a particularly valuable area to have this centre of influence. I don't understand why they would just disregard this building.”

Fellow campaigner 29-year-old Hayley Bowden, of Orange Grove, Leytonstone, was in tears.

Ms Bowden has been visiting the library her entire life and regularly takes her eight-year-old daughter Amber. She is disabled and fears her restricted mobility means she will not be able to visit other branches instead.

She said: “I'm really upset. My daughter will be devastated as she knows I won't be able to take her anymore.”

Defending the proposals, cabinet member for leisure and culture Cllr Geraldine Reardon said: “This is indeed a very serious situation and I'll start with the most serious fact of all – the council has to save more than £65million over the next four years at the same time as demand for services such as social care is on the increase.

“The council values libraries highly...but we can no longer afford the major overspend that we've had for several years.”

However she also admitted for the first time that there would be a negative impact by the shake-up, which includes new opening hours for the remaining branches.

She said: “There will be some adverse impact arising from this [new] library model” but added that the council aimed to deliver a better service.

Cabinet member for children's services Cllr Marie Pye appeared to suggest that campaigners in Leytonstone could come forward with proposals “at this late stage” to copy the idea in Chingford of having a volunteer-run community library.

But furious protesters said afterwards that Labour ward Cllr Nicholas Russell had tried to submit just such a plan last week only to be told he was too late.

Lib Dem ward Cllr Liz Phillips also accused the authority of failing to consider alternatives. She said: “They could have saved £134,000 by not opening libraries on Sundays and Mondays. Instead they're closing Harrow Green altogether which will save them £135,000.”

A petition against the closure of Harrow Green will be discussed by the full council next week. The decision could technically be referred back to cabinet if councillors agree.

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Comments (16)

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10:21pm Tue 11 Oct 11

technojist says...

Disgraceful conduct by Labour again whose wanton waste caused the problems in the first place. South Leytonstone is a Ghost Town already and it is ironic that the 'Click' building just up the road which had millions pumped into it is now closed as well and up for sale.
A Library is a central focal point in any local community and this venue is in the middle of a vast Housing estate and people will not bother to use the Church Lane one.

They are saving 135k by closing this which is a peppercorn compared with the Millions that they have wasted in other ventures locally.
Disgraceful conduct by Labour again whose wanton waste caused the problems in the first place. South Leytonstone is a Ghost Town already and it is ironic that the 'Click' building just up the road which had millions pumped into it is now closed as well and up for sale. A Library is a central focal point in any local community and this venue is in the middle of a vast Housing estate and people will not bother to use the Church Lane one. They are saving 135k by closing this which is a peppercorn compared with the Millions that they have wasted in other ventures locally. technojist

10:47pm Tue 11 Oct 11

Tom Thumb says...

Councillor Robbins has always loathed books and in his earlier role as cabinet member with responsibility for libraries he first began the process of shedding tens of thousands of books from the local library stock. Much of this work of destruction was done in secret. It also marked the early stage of Robbins's intoxication with outside consultants, who charged huge sums in order to arrive at the amazing conclusion that the best way to save money was to sell council property, sell council land, or make staff redundant.

These libraries are not the first to be shut down by the New Labour philistines (remember St James Street library).

Naturally the urge to save money does not extend to the lavishly subsidised propaganda rag known as "Waltham Forest News", which suppresses all local opinion in favour of endless celebrations of the glorious achievements of Cllr Robbins and his cronies.
Councillor Robbins has always loathed books and in his earlier role as cabinet member with responsibility for libraries he first began the process of shedding tens of thousands of books from the local library stock. Much of this work of destruction was done in secret. It also marked the early stage of Robbins's intoxication with outside consultants, who charged huge sums in order to arrive at the amazing conclusion that the best way to save money was to sell council property, sell council land, or make staff redundant. These libraries are not the first to be shut down by the New Labour philistines (remember St James Street library). Naturally the urge to save money does not extend to the lavishly subsidised propaganda rag known as "Waltham Forest News", which suppresses all local opinion in favour of endless celebrations of the glorious achievements of Cllr Robbins and his cronies. Tom Thumb

11:40pm Tue 11 Oct 11

Sean P says...

This is terrible news for the most deprived part of the borough.
How much did it cost to have The Selecter and Shola Ama play at the Car Free Day this year?
This is terrible news for the most deprived part of the borough. How much did it cost to have The Selecter and Shola Ama play at the Car Free Day this year? Sean P

12:51am Wed 12 Oct 11

waltham says...

Robbins is bad news for this Borough - Whoever votes labour in this borough should hold their heads in shame. They are killing the borough
Why on earth Labour councillors dont speak out against robbins ,pye ,loakes is beyound belief. They will pay at the next election. Ed milliband will never be PM with a council like this one to represent labour values
Robbins is bad news for this Borough - Whoever votes labour in this borough should hold their heads in shame. They are killing the borough Why on earth Labour councillors dont speak out against robbins ,pye ,loakes is beyound belief. They will pay at the next election. Ed milliband will never be PM with a council like this one to represent labour values waltham

12:52am Wed 12 Oct 11

inézc says...

The Evening Standard doing a big campaign to improve literacy and reading through its pages - LBWF doing the exact opposite. Appalling.
The Evening Standard doing a big campaign to improve literacy and reading through its pages - LBWF doing the exact opposite. Appalling. inézc

9:13am Wed 12 Oct 11

Harry's boy says...

I suspect that if the over inflated wages of some of the senior staff in the borough were cut by 5-10% (which I'm sure they can well afford), there would be enough to keep these services going. Local Councils are very good at wasting money, but not good at spending wisely - mostly because they have no real world experience of how business (or household) budgets work.
Another thought; closing a popular service and blaming the government is a political way of making a point - but it doesn't help those who elected them to office, merely enables those in power to remain there. A sad reflection of politics in general, I'm afraid.
I suspect that if the over inflated wages of some of the senior staff in the borough were cut by 5-10% (which I'm sure they can well afford), there would be enough to keep these services going. Local Councils are very good at wasting money, but not good at spending wisely - mostly because they have no real world experience of how business (or household) budgets work. Another thought; closing a popular service and blaming the government is a political way of making a point - but it doesn't help those who elected them to office, merely enables those in power to remain there. A sad reflection of politics in general, I'm afraid. Harry's boy

9:19am Wed 12 Oct 11

karola says...

How anyone can vote for labour councillors in this borough is beyond belief. They must be spending thousands "improving" Leytonstone High Road by widening the pavement so it is now bigger than the road!! It is purely political so they can blame the current government. Wake up residents and get these people out.
How anyone can vote for labour councillors in this borough is beyond belief. They must be spending thousands "improving" Leytonstone High Road by widening the pavement so it is now bigger than the road!! It is purely political so they can blame the current government. Wake up residents and get these people out. karola

10:00am Wed 12 Oct 11

ShinySue says...

Appalling shameful and a complete disgrace. Cynical and despicable. I urhe people NEVER to vote for Labour in Waltham Forest again.
Appalling shameful and a complete disgrace. Cynical and despicable. I urhe people NEVER to vote for Labour in Waltham Forest again. ShinySue

10:00am Wed 12 Oct 11

ShinySue says...

Appalling shameful and a complete disgrace. Cynical and despicable. I urge people NEVER to vote for Labour in Waltham Forest again.
Appalling shameful and a complete disgrace. Cynical and despicable. I urge people NEVER to vote for Labour in Waltham Forest again. ShinySue

12:41pm Wed 12 Oct 11

Oliver_Highams_Park says...

This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous.
This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous. Oliver_Highams_Park

12:41pm Wed 12 Oct 11

Oliver_Highams_Park says...

This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous.
This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous. Oliver_Highams_Park

12:41pm Wed 12 Oct 11

Oliver_Highams_Park says...

This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous.
This council is inept. The library department is inept. The consultation totally flawed. Why are libraries closing and other libraries opening on Sundays - people have been consulted on Sunday opening and they are not bothered about it. Totally ridiculous. Oliver_Highams_Park

10:18am Thu 13 Oct 11

driftingcowboy says...

What makes it even worse is to see so much money being wasted in other areas. For example, this council proudly proclaims on its website that it spends £3.2 million collecting rubbish and £1.5 million dealing with fly-tipping.

This could be dramatically reduced if it carried out greater enforcement in the first place. Its disillusioning to think that this much money is being spent on clearing up rubbish when libraries and other services are being affected by cutbacks.
What makes it even worse is to see so much money being wasted in other areas. For example, this council proudly proclaims on its website that it spends £3.2 million collecting rubbish and £1.5 million dealing with fly-tipping. This could be dramatically reduced if it carried out greater enforcement in the first place. Its disillusioning to think that this much money is being spent on clearing up rubbish when libraries and other services are being affected by cutbacks. driftingcowboy

10:43am Thu 13 Oct 11

Donald Bethl'hem says...

What a petty and repulsive decision. Harrow Green library is situated in one of the most deprived areas of London. It's children's library is a jewel. It's well stocked, has friendly, helpful staff, some great activities but most importantly kids can enjoy it in their own way without glares and shushes from adult library users.
Shame on Cllr Robbins and LBWF council
What a petty and repulsive decision. Harrow Green library is situated in one of the most deprived areas of London. It's children's library is a jewel. It's well stocked, has friendly, helpful staff, some great activities but most importantly kids can enjoy it in their own way without glares and shushes from adult library users. Shame on Cllr Robbins and LBWF council Donald Bethl'hem

2:40pm Thu 13 Oct 11

Sean P says...

Good point Donald Bethl'hem regarding the kids library. I prefer to use Harrow Green when taking my kids to the Library. Leytonstone Library is good, but it's open plan and so when the kids get a little boisterous, the adults (quite rightly) aren't best pleased.

My parents never took me to the Library and we never had any books in the house. In fact reading was never encouraged. However, I loved my local library and it was a sanctuary for me, all those years ago.
I know that this decision is now set in stone, but it's imperative to now invest more in the Leytonstone Library.

Shame on the councillors who voted for this.
Good point Donald Bethl'hem regarding the kids library. I prefer to use Harrow Green when taking my kids to the Library. Leytonstone Library is good, but it's open plan and so when the kids get a little boisterous, the adults (quite rightly) aren't best pleased. My parents never took me to the Library and we never had any books in the house. In fact reading was never encouraged. However, I loved my local library and it was a sanctuary for me, all those years ago. I know that this decision is now set in stone, but it's imperative to now invest more in the Leytonstone Library. Shame on the councillors who voted for this. Sean P

6:01pm Tue 18 Oct 11

ferdy505 says...

They must have a map of South Chingford & stick pins in anything that is paid for by the Council!! So we've got no public toilets, no Waltham Forest Direct shop & now no local library, as well as getting rid of the offices in The Ridgeway.

Looks like theyve got to pay for this "great" contract, theyve now got with that "fantastic" company kier, somehow!!!!!
They must have a map of South Chingford & stick pins in anything that is paid for by the Council!! So we've got no public toilets, no Waltham Forest Direct shop & now no local library, as well as getting rid of the offices in The Ridgeway. Looks like theyve got to pay for this "great" contract, theyve now got with that "fantastic" company kier, somehow!!!!! ferdy505

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