St James St Library Campaign

Fantastic News for the St James Street Library!
December 14, 2010, 9:18 pm
Filed under: latest news

Blackhorse Action Group (BAG) and St James Street Library Campaign have been shortlisted for a grant from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts!

More than 600 community groups applied for NESTA’s 10 Neighbourhood Challenge grants. Only 40 have made it through to the next round.

The NESTA shortlisting is a terrific achievement, and it shows how strongly we made our case. We’ve not only shown that our community needs the library building. We’ve also proved that we have the ideas, energy and expertise to make a success of it.

It’s the second exciting piece of news this month, in our efforts to bring the former St James Street Library back into community use.

BAG – the residents’ association covering the area – had a meeting in October with Cllr Afzal Akram, who is in charge of Waltham Forest council’s properties and was planning to put the closed library up for auction. We persuaded him to give us a little time to find an alternative. Then we sent out a call for a public-spirited tenant or buyer to take over the building and let us use part of it. Our call was answered by Alert Ltd, the owners of Community Place in Leyton.


Alert Ltd have approached the council to lease the building for at least five years, sub-letting to community groups and charities. So we already have a chance to be back in the building early next year.

As long as the council accepts Alert’s offer, we’ll be able to work on creating a new community space in the St James Street building.

And the NESTA funding, if we get it, will help to bring it back to life as the heart of the community.


St James Street Library, in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow, was closed in April 2007. It was scheduled to be sold at auction. A huge local campaign sprang up to reopen the library – the only community facility for everyday in use in a deprived area. Although Waltham Forest council has ruled out reopening a library, it has recently started talks with local people who want it reopened as a community space.


Dont’ let the council sell the building! Urgent action needed!
December 9, 2010, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

URGENT – please lobby your councillor to rent St James Street Library instead of selling it!  And please forward this to your networks and anyone else who may support us.

The owners of Community Place in Leyton have put in a bid to rent the former St James Street Library for five years, sub-letting to community and charitable groups.

Waltham Forest council has long refused to reopen the public library. But we’ve persuaded them to consider renting the building out instead of selling it to a developer. The Community Place tenancy would keep the building in public hands and give us our best chance of creating a community space there

Please ask your councillor to support the proposal from Community Place, and let your MP know your concern too.

There’s not much time before the council plans to auction the building, so please write them an email or letter (details below) and show them that we still care about St James Street.  We’ve suggested some wording, but feel free to use your own.

Thank you,

St James Street Library Campaign



Dear Councillor

I have heard with interest that the St James Street Library building has received a bid to be rented on a long-term lease to Community Place, who propose to sublet it to charitable and community groups, with office space and space for the arts.  This gives the community in the western end of the High Street a chance to have the community space that it so desperately needs, and provides a much needed boost to the regeneration of the area.

I urge you to support this bid, instead of letting the building go to auction.   A private developer may turn it into flats (causing further overcrowding without infrastructure) or leave it derelict until the property market strengthens, blighting the community.

The Community Place proposal could be a win-win for the Council and the people of the St James Street and Coppermill Area.

Please inform me of how you intend to vote on the proposal.  I look forward to your response.



Look up your local Councillor and contact details here:


Find your MP here:



You can write to all councillors at:

Waltham Forest Town Hall, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4JF.



If you email them, please copy in the following people:


Cllr. Chris Robbins, Leader of the Council,


Cllr Afzal Akram, Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources (including property)


Cllr Geraldine Reardon, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Arts and Culture,


Martin Esom Chief Executive,


Mimi Konigsberg, Executive Director, Adults and Community Services,


Clive Morton, Head of Cultural Services,


Lorna Lee, Head of Libraries, Museum, Gallery and Archives,


Shifa Mustafa, Acting Director of Environment and Regeneration.


Moira Bishop, Assistant Director Property,



If you do not hear back from the Council or have an unsatisfactory response, please fill in a complaints form, available from any council office or via the Council website,


Spread the word!

Please forward this email to anyone who may support our cause, tell the people you know — spread the word to friends and neighbours.


More information:

St James Street Library in Coppermill Lane building has been empty since it was closed without warning in April 2007.  Local residents have been campaigning since then to have the building returned to community use, though the council wanted to sell it — probably to a property developer.

The council announced earlier this year that it intended to auction the building before April 2011. But the council also started talking to campaigners for the first time. At a meeting with St James Street Library Campaign in October, Cllr

Afzal Akram agreed to consider renting out the building if a potential tenant came forward before Christmas to take it on a five-year lease, which is what the owners of Community Place are proposing to do.

St James Street Library Campaign welcome what has been made public about the proposal so far, while waiting to hear further details.

“This proposal meets the requirements Cllr Akram made at our meeting,” say campaigners. “We wanted the building to reopen as a library and the council wanted to sell it, so this could be the best possible compromise. We look forward to hearing that the council will honour Cllr Akram’s offer.”


Public meeting report, 28th Nov 2010
December 9, 2010, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Many thanks to everyone who turned out on a cold Sunday evening yesterday, to the St James Street Library Campaign and Blackhorse Action Group public meeting. For those who couldn’t make it, there’s a summary below. Welcome to those who added their names to our email list and are receiving their first SJSLC update.
Special thanks to all who contributed ideas and contact details for anyone who could help our campaign. For example do you have knowledge or expertise in community asset transfer or any of the other possibilities we’re researching for the building?
We would welcome any further ideas or contacts, so please email if you have any — thanks.
The meeting heard from representatives of both groups and from High Street ward councillor Clare Coghill who is supporting our campaign.
The council has ruled out reopening it as a library. But we don’t want it sold to a developer. Our plans have to be flexible, depending on what kind of access we can get to the building. The possibilities range from taking it over as a community space, to using one small part of it.
We said it’s great that Cllr Afzal Akram (the Cabinet member with responsibility for property) is now talking to us about our ideas for saving the building for the community; more details below. We believe we can get funding, or an alternative buyer/tenant. But we’ll need several months to do it. The building has been empty since 2007, so it’s only reasonable to give us a realistic deadline.
Cllr Liaquat Ali, who also represents High Street ward and is Cabinet member for Communities, was at the meeting. We asked him to use his influence, as a long-time councillor and former mayor, to get us more time to develop our plans.
Other councillors and former councillors came forward to pledge their support for our campaign, including Cllr Mahmood Hussain, Bob Wheatley and Johar Khan. The fact that we’ve kept the campaign going for over three years seems to be winning us support among the people who can make things happen.
We broke into smaller groups to discuss the skills and ideas people could offer to help us get into the building — through buying, renting, community asset transfer or as sub-tenants to a community-minded organisation.
We watched Neil’s film of the Love St James Street Library event in July. That day showed us all how much commitment and energy there is in our local community and how much we want this building back. You can also find it on YouTube: