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New hope for volunteer-run library plans in Leytonstone
A group of campaigners who battled against the closure of a library have moved a step closer to opening their own volunteer-run branch.
Waltham Forest Council shut libraries in Harrow Green, Leytonstone and South Chingford in December 2011 as part of measures to save £1million in two years.
Within months campaigners in Chingford had set up their own branch in a council building which formerly housed advice and information service Waltham Forest Direct.
However similar plans in Leytonstone initially failed to get off the ground due to difficulties in finding a suitable venue.
But now campaigners have been given hope after being allocated a room at the Epicentre community centre in Leytonstone under a three-month agreement.
They hope the deal will be extended and are appealing for volunteers to come forward to help make their plans a reality.
Campaigner Howard Smeed said: “At the moment we're looking at opening it for three hours every Saturday, but we'd like to expand that if possible.
“We really need volunteers to help. We can offer some training through Voluntary Action Waltham Forest in March and we're hoping to get an initial allocation of 4,000 books from Waltham Forest Council.
“It is good what they've managed to do at South Chingford library. We have been talking to them but there's not a direct link between us at the moment.”
The proposed new library has already secured some council ward funding and has been backed by ward councillors, Labour's Cllr Terry Wheeler and Cllr Nicholas Russell, along with Liberal Democrat Cllr Liz Phillips.
Fellow campaigner Ros Kane said: “Obviously we didn't want Harrow Green to close in the first place, but this is all we've got at the moment.
“We were initially offered a corridor at the Epicentre, which was totally unsuitable, but now we have this room. We've had quite a lot of interest but still have a way to go.”
Ms Kane said promised shelves, books and other equipment had not yet been handed over by the council and wrangling over the Epicentre's future added some uncertainty.
The building was formerly managed by charity O-Regen but it went into administration last year.
Housing association CBHA is currently in negotiations with the administrators to take control of the site, and has reportedly indicated to campaigners that it would allow the temporary library to continue.
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