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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.
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