MORE then a thousand people have signed a petition calling for a library in a deprived part of the borough to be saved from closure.

Harrow Green Library in Leytonstone is a vital community resource for people in an area blighted by crime, over-crowded housing, poverty and poor health, according to campaigners.

Along with South Chingford Library, it has been earmarked for closure as part of a cost-cutting review of the service across the borough.

Former councillor Vi Gostling, who was made a member of the British empire (MBE) for 60 years of service to the community, opened the library in 1960.

She has drafted a letter to be read out at a Ward Forum meeting tonight, which she can't attend due to ill health.

She wrote: “I am grieved beyond words that I cannot take part in this campaign.

“I and previous borough council Labour Party colleagues fought to complete and open this library after the war.

“We celebrated the opening of Harrow Green Library last year - 50 years of its great success as a library and a cultural development.

“At this stage, with all the known needs in the two adjacent wards of Cathall and Cann Hall, and the promise of more difficult times to come, it is absolutely criminal to remove any positive social and educational force.

“I implore the council to consider the needs, and particularly the young people, of this area before they take such a shameful action.”

Ros Kane, 49, of Matcham Road, Leytonstone, runs a local charity providing support to children from difficult backgrounds.

She has been taking the petition door-to-door and said many did not know the library may be closing.

Ms Kane added: “People are absolutely shocked.

“Children in the area are often cooped up in flats - they need places like libraries so they can move around and discover new things.

“The Cathall area is one of the most deprived in the country and people need positive facilities on their doorstep.

“It is a place where you can feel rested from the stresses of life - explore new books, tapes or a DVD, bump into your neighbours, or just sit and think.

The council says it has no choice but to close the two libraries due to an unprecedented cut in Government funding.

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