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Baroness backs Advertiser campaign to save Bancroft library

PUBLISHED: 11:44 15 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 05 October 2010

THE influential Labour peer Baroness Uddin has backed the East London Advertiser’s campaign to block council plans to sell the Bancroft Library. The former Tower Hamlets councillor said Town Hall bosses had a duty to protect the heritage of London’s East End. Too much of it had already been sold off, she told the paper

Ted Jeory

THE influential Labour peer Baroness Uddin has backed the East London Advertiser's campaign to block council plans to sell the Bancroft Library.

The former Tower Hamlets councillor said Town Hall bosses had a duty to protect the heritage of London's East End.

Too much of it had already been sold off, she told the paper.

Tower Hamlets council decides on July 30 whether to sell the former Mile End Vestry Hall, currently home to the borough's Archive collection and local history library.

A deal is being negotiated with Queen Mary College next door, which hopes to buy the listed Victorian building for £1.2 million and lease part of it out to the world-famous Wiener Library's prestigious Holocaust archives.

But Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green, Britain's first Bengali woman councillor in 1990 and the first Muslim woman peer in Parliament, said: "I would like Tower Hamlets and its people to retain ownership of the Bancroft.

"We have already sold much of our land to developers without negotiating sufficient return for Tower Hamlets."

She joins a host of other names to join the Advertiser campaign this week, including Bangladeshi writer and journalist Faruque Ahmed, who has used Bancroft for 19 years for research.

He said:

"I am extremely shocked to hear Tower Hamlets council is selling our pride, the Bancroft building, that in the future will be one of the main centres for ethnic minorities' original history and research in the UK.

This decision I fully condemn. It is a total negligence of the council.

"The authority has already closed Bethnal Green Reference Library as well as the Whitechapel and Bancroft public libraries."

He asks: "what is left for our community and our future generation?

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