St James St Library Campaign

Love St James Street Library event
November 8, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: press releases

4 July 2010

Walthamstow residents turned out on Saturday [3 July] to celebrate a much-loved building and call on the council to bring it back into community use.

“It was a beautiful sunny day,” said Mo Gallaccio, who organised the ‘Love St James Street Library’ event. “We promised to provide a fun day for all the family and we did!”


St James Street Library, closed since 2007, was decorated with flowers and artworks, including a mobile of toy animals reading books under a colourful umbrella. Supporters brought homemade cakes to share and musicians entertained the crowd. Among the decorations were banners including residents’ many ideas for community use of the building.


The ‘open-air library’ – a book-swap stall run by a group of library-lovers with donated books – attracted readers of all ages, just as the real library used to. Children who hadn’t brought a swap ‘paid’ for their books with drawings which were then displayed.

New MP Stella Creasey joined in the ‘Love St James Street Library’ event, as did councillors Clare Coghill and Liaquat Ali.

“To have two ward Councillors and an MP join us was encouraging,” said Ms Gallaccio. “We were able to make the point that there is very strong local feeling about the need for a space which serves all the community.”


Sale would be another scandal
November 8, 2010, 2:51 pm
Filed under: press releases

5 October 2010

Council plans to sell St James Street Library would create yet another Waltham Forest scandal, warn campaigners.

“With the town-centre arcade site vacant for over a decade, the EMD cinema neglected since 2003 and Walthamstow stadium still empty, surely Waltham Forest doesn’t need the anger caused by another boarded-up public building?” says Janet Wright, a member of St James Street Library Campaign.

The council admitted on Monday [4 October] that it intends to sell the library, despite Cllr Afzal Akram’s recent promise to consult local residents before putting the building on the sales list. It was closed without warning in April 2007, to save £70,000 a year towards a pay rise of £230,000 for councillors.

“The buyer would be the only person to benefit from this fire-sale of public property,” says Janet Wright. “The council has been wasting £20,000 a year on guarding the empty building, while the exterior becomes derelict. We have been asking the council to do its duty, find a tenant for the building to cover running costs in the short term, and allow part of it to be used by the community.”

The densely populated Coppermill Lane area has few facilities, so plans for yet more flats with no added infrastructure would be strongly opposed by residents.

Instead, residents have been asking the council to co-operate in putting the library back into community use. Experienced local fundraisers have offered to help reduce the council’s costs still further. Detailed proposals to form a community trust (which could bring in external funds to cover community projects in the building) have been put forward to Cllr Akram and to ward councillors, who say they would be enthusiastic.