Council pauses plan after thousands object to library building closure

Hale End Library

Hale End Library in Castle Avenue

Waltham Forest Council has delayed a decision over closing a library building after more than 3,000 people signed a petition to save it.

Last month the local authority announced plans to move Hale End Library in Castle Avenue, Highams Park, to smaller premises in nearby Signal Walk, rented from Tesco. But after the campaign to retain the building amassed widespread support, the council later announced it would not yet be going ahead.

Councillor Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for digital and customer services, said: “Due to rumours and confusion over the plan for the Hale End site, we’re proposing to defer that element to allow for ongoing discussions and for officers to have more time to review usage over the coming months.”

Hale End is one of four libraries included in a new “vision” for library services. Higham Hill and Wood Street are also set to be relocated, while a fourth, Lea Bridge, is likely to be renovated. A public consultation on these plans was due to be launched as the Echo went to press.

The petition against Hale End’s relocation states: “The cost of renting will be extremely high and a break clause in the lease means the library could cease to exist. Hale End Library is a unique community asset and it would be a devastating blow to the local community to lose it.”

Councillor Waldron added: “We know local libraries are a well-loved service, which is why we’re committed to investing in them and making them better at a time when neighbouring authorities are reducing or closing theirs – something we have no intention of doing.

“It’s important we’re able to have clear and open conversations with residents about our proposal in order to help shape the work we’re trying to do.”

In a previous statement the council had claimed that moving Hale End to new premises would “offer an opportunity to place the library in a busier and more accessible location while offering greater flexibility of space”.