Campaigners consider library bid after sell-off confirmed

Wood Street Library

Wood Street Library was built circa 1950

Residents campaigning to save a library in Walthamstow are considering a community bid to buy the building.

A demonstration organised by the Campaign to Save Wood Street Library Building was held outside the town hall prior to a scrutiny meeting in August at which the leader of Waltham Forest Council defended the decision to sell the site.

In a statement the group said: “We are bitterly disappointed about the decision to sell the building and the blocking of scrutiny, which we allege took place at the meeting. The decision does not make financial sense over the long term.

“While we recognise austerity measures are in place, it is shocking that this community asset will be put up for sale, given that next year we will be the first London Borough of Culture and the building is a fine architectural example of civic pride and potentially a fantastic income-generating community and cultural space.

“We are considering a community bid to buy the building.”

Councillor Clare Coghill, the council leader, had hit back at opposition Tory councillors after they ‘called in’ the decision so that it could be scrutinised by a council committee.

One of the main points of contention was the estimated cost of refurbishing and refitting the existing 68-year-old library building, initially put at £2.5million but now revised down to £2.4m. This high cost was used by the Labour-run council cabinet to justify selling the site and creating a new library on the Marlowe Road Estate for £2m.

Cllr Coghill said: “It is outrageous that Conservative councillors are calling into question the integrity of officers without a shred of evidence. There has been a lengthy consultation process leading up to this decision and we heard from a number of people who spoke passionately in favour of the new facilities.

“I’m pleased the committee upheld the decision. As we go forward with these proposals we will make sure residents get a say in shaping the design of the new Wood Street Library, and the existing site will remain open until the new site is ready.”