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Shadow Minister ordered out of public library fighting for its survival

PUBLISHED: 19:55 18 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:38 05 October 2010

Ed Vaizey... seconds before being asked to leave Bancroft Archives today

Ed Vaizey... seconds before being asked to leave Bancroft Archives today

SHADOW Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was asked today to leave the famous Bancroft Archive Library—which is at the centre of a controversy over its sale. He was in East London on a fact-finding mission this morning to look round the listed building in Mile End. Now he has pledged to tackle the Culture Secretary about Tower Hamlets council’s scheme to sell it and would be raising the issue in Parliament about the fate of the archive records going back to Tudor times

Julia Gregory

SHADOW Culture Minister Ed Vaizey was asked today to leave the famous Bancroft Archive Library—which is at the centre of a controversy over its intended sale.

Mr Vaizey was in East London on a fact-finding mission this morning to look round the listed building at Bancroft Road in Mile End.

He has described plans to sell off the former Victorian Vestry Hall as “a scandal.”

Now he has pledged to tackle Culture Secretary Margaret Hodge about Tower Hamlets council’s scheme to sell it to Queen Mary College next door.

He would also be raising the issue in Parliament about the fate of the library and the archive records that go back to Tudor times.

Mr Vaizey was visiting the library on the invitation of Peter Golds, Conservative Opposition leader on Tower Hamlets council.

While there, he met the chairman of the Jewish East End Celebration Society, Clive Bettington, who uses the archives for research for his books and guided tours around London’s East End.

It was while speaking to a journalist from the East London Advertiser in the Reading Room that he was asked to leave.

Cllr Golds said afterwards: “It’s disgraceful—I’m lodging an immediate official complaint about being asked to leave a public place.”

Mr Vaizey had earlier been studying archive photographs of Labour councillors including Minnie Lansbury who were jailed for their part in the Poplar rates strike in 1921.

He has now given backing to the Advertiser’s campaign which has been running for three months to keep the Bancroft Archive at Mile End.

“This is a unique archive,” he told the paper. “It’s clearly under threat and it’s an incredibly important local resource and an important national resource, with the history of the East End over the last 400 years and the unveiling of the Labour Party in the early 20th century.

“There are people in the national Labour Party who should be encouraging Tower Hamlets council to keep this archive together—it would be ideal for it to stay in this building.”

People who use the archives and the wider community should be consulted about the future of the East End’s archive and history library, he stressed.

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