Public libraries could vanish in Tower Hamlets’ say Tories

MORE public libraries could face the axe in London’s East End, worried Opposition councillors fear. The expansion of Tower Hamlets’ Idea Stores now on the cards could paving the way for the closure of smaller neighbourhood libraries, say Town Hall Tories

By Else Kvist

MORE public libraries could face the axe in London’s East End, worried Opposition councillors fear.

The expansion of Tower Hamlets’ Idea Stores now on the cards could paving the way for the closure of smaller neighbourhood libraries, say Town Hall Tories.

The ruling Labour cabinet has ordered council officers to look at opening three local Idea’ stores in addition to the four existing centres which will become anchor’ stores.

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These would include the Crossharbour development on the Isle of Dogs, which opponents say would put nearby Cubitt Town library at risk.

Tory Deputy leader Tim Archer fears it could be “swallowed up”.

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But Town Hall officers insist there are no plans to close existing public libraries. Any future closures would need to be approved by councillors.

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Other plans have added fuel to the fire, like transforming Shadwell’s Watney Market public library into an Idea store.

Labour’s Josh Peck refuted suggestions that Idea stores were “glorified internet cafes.” Figures show visitors rose from 570,000 to two million over the past decade.

But the number of people borrowing material is falling and is below the London average, Tory Archer pointed out.