A CAMPAIGN has been launched to "save" a library amid fears that public buildings in a neighbourhood may be sold off for redevelopment.

The suggested conversion of the Wood Street Library building in Walthamstow for housing and a relocation of the service was unveiled last Christmas by the council as one of several proposals for the long-term future of the area.

The authority has now launched a consultation into new planning policies for the borough, which include the statement that "there is potential for redevelopment across a cluster of sites" in the shopping district, including building new homes.

The Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union believes it is further evidence that the authority is plotting to relocate the library and fears other public buildings could also be sold off to developers.

But Labour ward councillor Peter Barnet denied there were any plans to move the branch and described the claim as "rubbish".

The new campaign is being led by the union's Nancy Taaffe, who lost her job at Wood Street Library in council cuts last year.

Ms Taaffe believes the council is considering moving the library to a shop on the Wood Street Plaza and said such a move would result in further cuts to the service.

It comes after the authority closed libraries in Harrow Green, Leytonstone, and South Chingford last year as part of efforts to save £1million over two years following cuts in its government funding.

Ms Taaffe said: “We have been to two Wood Street Forum [meetings] where the councillors would not commit on whether the library would stay put.

“My understanding is that the [nearby] Willow House and Cedar Wood House buildings are either empty now or on their way to being so, that whole corner of land and its buildings are going to be given to a private landlord.

“The protest is the start of the Anti-Cuts Union emphasising the land grab taking place in Waltham Forest which is a transference of public assets to private interests. “

But Cllr Barnet accused Ms Taaffe of being “bitter” about losing her job at the library.

He said: “It's total rubbish, there's no plans at all to move the library.

“Someone came up with some suggestions which included demolition of some other buildings and the dairy site, but it was just blue-sky thinking. It's not going to happen.

“There is going to be some development around that corner, it's a very large site, but none of that is decided yet. No-one [at the council] is telling me anything about relocating the library.”

Fellow ward councillor Angie Bean added: "while there was a consultation on what  may happen to some of the space on that site there are no plans being put forward to us for any changes at present".

The Guardian is awaiting a statement from the council.

The consultation into the Local Plan Development Management Policies runs until September 17.

Visit http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/Pages/Services/planning-local-plans.aspx for more information.

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