Council backs plans for �500k Bancroft funding

The East End’s Bancroft History Library & Archives will receive �500,000 towards its refurbishment if the wishes of local councillors are met.

The East End’s Bancroft History Library and Archives will receive �500,000 towards its refurbishment if local councillors manage to have their way.

At the first council meeting of Lutfur Rahman’s mayoralty on October 27, held at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, councillors backed a motion calling on the mayor to review section 106 funding earmarked for the library.

The Grade-II listed building in Bancroft Road houses a collection covering 400 years of East End history and needs ‘further repairs’ and ‘improved access’ according to Cllr Ohid Ahmed, the new deputy mayor.

The East London Advertiser ran a campaign in 2008 to save the archive, which holds more than 20,000 books and pamphlets. The debate turned sour though as Cllr Ahmed and Cllr Rabina Khan, accused Cllr Denise Jones of previously requesting that �350,000 be withdrawn from Bancroft in favour of the Rich Mix Centre in Bethnal Green Road.

Speaking following the meeting, Conservative group leader, Cllr Peter Golds, said: “Everyone will have to see what Lutfur does.

“I’m not confident of anything but there would be an eruption if Bancroft didn’t receive funding now.

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“I would like to see the next stage of its development as soon as possible.”

A strategic development committee granted Bancroft �500,000 as part of an agreement to redevelop the ex-Peugeot site in Mile End Road in February.

Last week’s motion called on Mr Rahman to ensure that these funds went to Bancroft.

It also called on the mayor to work with the committee to secure the future of Bancroft, but there was confusion at the meeting over whether the Mayor had the powers to do so.

Councillors Ahmed and Khan did not say when they believed Cllr Jones made a request for �350,000 to go to Rich Mix.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Jones said: “It was never the case that the Bancroft Library and Archive would have been sold.

“I would totally dispute that I asked for �350,000 of funding to go in favour of Rich Mix.”

A total of 28 councillors voted in favour of the motion, with 16 abstentions and the mayor will make a report about Bancroft to the next council meeting on December 8.