12 July 2016
On Tuesday 12th July, Green Party members Robert Tatam and Mick Holloway will be joining Save Highams Park’s Librarycampaigners inside Waltham Forest Town Hall where LBWF Council are holding a Cabinet meeting to consider proposed closure and relocation plans for three borough libraries. Thelibraries are: Hale End Library, in Castle Avenue, Highams Park; Higham Hill Library, in North Countess Road, Walthamstow; and Wood Street Library, in Forest Road, Walthamstow. If the Cabinet approve the proposals there will be a public consultation but there is no certainty that such a decision will be reversed if local residents object.
Mick Holloway said: “Waltham Forest Council's proposal to close Highams Park Library is yet another example of decision making based on poor analysis of the facts and little, if any, public consultation. The questionnaires used by officers to analyse usage of the library completely ignored school pupils using thelibrary for study and those using it to read newspapers.”
Over the past week, concerned residents of Highams Park have built a huge social media based campaign to defend their beloved library from relocation and likely eventual closure. The ‘Save Hale End Library’ petition, started just 6 days ago, has now been signed by over 4000 people, which means that it will need to be discussed at a full Council Meeting.
Campaigners also organised a mass photocall outside Hale EndLibrary on Saturday 9th July, where Green Party members Mick Holloway, Robert Tatam and Diana Korchien joined a crowd of approximately 200 local residents to protest against the council’s plans to sell off the library site to property developers for flats. The plans would involve relocating the council-owned library, which currently incurs no leasing costs, to temporary, expensive rented premises in Signal Walk, by Highams Park Tesco.
Robert Tatam said: “The suitably spacious nature of the presentlibrary building allows thirty children to sit down and have a story read to them, which the proposed site would not appropriately allow.”
Mick Holloway added: “It is hard to see how renting a space on the Tesco site will provide a long-term solution as it will clearly cost more in terms of revenue spending as well as lose the income from current hirers. The release of capital from the sale of the site provides a short-term fix which is completely unsustainable.”
Highams Park Planning Group are considering applying to have the library building, which is the only Council-owned building in the area, listed as an asset of community value, as well as suggesting ways that the current library can raise some much needed funds and become self-sufficient.