CHINGFORD: Community library opens

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Waltham Forest mayor Cllr Geoff Walker (far left at the front) cuts the ribbon to open the library. Waltham Forest mayor Cllr Geoff Walker (far left at the front) cuts the ribbon to open the library.

A LIBRARY run entirely by volunteers has opened after months of planning.

Around 100 people attended Saturday's (April 14) launch of South Chingford Community Library, which is based at the former Waltham Forest Direct shop in Chingford Mount Road.

The initiative was drawn up by residents and opposition Conservative councillors after the council leadership decided to shut the South Chingford facility in Hall Lane and the Harrow Green library in Leytonstone in December to save money.

So far the new branch will only be open on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm, but the library's chair Greg Pope said they hoped to expand the hours if more volunteers came forward.

The council has helped provide close to 8,000 books for the library, with volunteers securing ward forum funding to help pay its bills.

Mr Pope, 60, of Lawrence Hill in Chingford, said: "Overall the opening was quite successful. We got about 100 people through the doors and signed up just over 50 members.

"We've been asking for ideas about how the wider community can use it, and we've already had suggestions for a toy library and internet courses for the elderly.

"The feeling at the moment is very positive and we've had support from businesses such as Petra's café in South Chingford, which provided free food for the launch, so there's a real community feel.

"The test will be how many people we get coming on a regular basis, that will tell us whether it's been a success or not."

Mr Pope said nearly 50 people had signed up as volunteers and organisers were now working out what others regular times the library could open.

It was officially opened by mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr Geoff Walker and Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith.

Later in the day London mayor Boris Johnson also came for a visit.

"IDS said he had some books he could donate and Boris offered to post us a copy of his autobiography.

"It was nice for our profile but to be honest we were more interest in what the local community had to say", added Mr Pope.

The library costs £1 to join for a year, or 50p for children under the age of 11.

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Comments (3)

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10:09am Tue 17 Apr 12

ShinySue says...

I do wish them all the very best but having the Mayor open it is a bit odd when its the rotten council that closed the the libraries down in the first place!
I do wish them all the very best but having the Mayor open it is a bit odd when its the rotten council that closed the the libraries down in the first place! ShinySue

7:31pm Tue 17 Apr 12

Ex-library worker says...

Funny to see IDS and Johnson at a library. They never called in when I worked there. When the old library closed, a lot of people lost their jobs. I do hope the 'volunteers' spare a thought for those whose jobs they have taken over. And I really hope that their acts of 'altruism' don't encourage councils everywhere to cut even deeper, in the knowledge that there is an army of people out there prepared to take other people's jobs for free. Some of us still need to earn a living.
Funny to see IDS and Johnson at a library. They never called in when I worked there. When the old library closed, a lot of people lost their jobs. I do hope the 'volunteers' spare a thought for those whose jobs they have taken over. And I really hope that their acts of 'altruism' don't encourage councils everywhere to cut even deeper, in the knowledge that there is an army of people out there prepared to take other people's jobs for free. Some of us still need to earn a living. Ex-library worker

10:00am Wed 18 Apr 12

ChingfordMan says...

Although it may seem inconsistent for the Borough's mayor to open this volunteer-led library, it was of course the Labour-led council who closed the original library (against Conservative opposition), and the Conservatives who campaigned for a voluntary replacement *if the original coudn't be saved*. Also, even though LBWF is Labour controlled, we currently happen to have a Conservative mayor (Geoff Walker).
Although it may seem inconsistent for the Borough's mayor to open this volunteer-led library, it was of course the Labour-led council who closed the original library (against Conservative opposition), and the Conservatives who campaigned for a voluntary replacement *if the original coudn't be saved*. Also, even though LBWF is Labour controlled, we currently happen to have a Conservative mayor (Geoff Walker). ChingfordMan

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