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A COUNCIL decision to sell a historic Grade II listed public library to Nando’s was branded “bird-brained” today.
GMB union accused Newham council of wanting to “feather its own nest” after the shameless sell-off of the library in Canning Town to a fast-food chain.
The union pointed out that the site was also the birthplace of GMB and has hosted speakers including Labour Party founder Keir Hardie and suffragette campaigner Sylvia Pankhurst.
GMB founder Will Thorne formed the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers, now GMB, there in 1889 and helped organise the London Dock Strike of the same year.
“This bird-brained move by Newham Council shows an utter disregard for East London’s proud history,” GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny said.
“GMB understands local authorities have been driven to the wall by the Conservatives’ austerity project.
“But we had been in talks with Newham about turning the library into a learning space – which GMB would have had offices in.
“Instead they’ve chosen to feather their own nest and allow GMB’s birthplace to become yet another chicken shop.”
The local Labour Party in Canning Town North argued the library in Barking Road should remain open to the public due to its historical importance.
A Labour spokesman said: “The library is a Grade II listed building has been owned by the council and used as a public library since around 1894.
“We aren’t against Nando’s as such; we simply believe that the proposal is in the wrong place and should be in empty properties. It would enable the old library to continue with its original function of serving the public.”
The council closed the library, which was costing £2,000 a week to run, last year and have moved services to Rathbone Market community centre.
A Nando’s spokesman said: “We know the library building means a lot to the community. That’s why we’re planning to keep as much of the building’s original features and character as we can.”
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