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NANDO’S has dumped its “bird-brained” plans to convert a historic grade-II listed library into a food outlet after protests from trade unionists.
Newham Council in east London closed the Canning Town library and a proposal was made by the international chain to turn it into a restaurant specialising in chicken.
GMB union objected because of the building’s role in the labour and trade union movement and proposed that the building instead be put to community use.
The library is the birthplace of the GMB, Britain’s third-largest union. Will Thorne founded its predecessor the Gas Workers & General Union in the library in March 1889.
Nando’s has now withdrawn its plan and the council has put the building’s future on hold.
GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny said: “We’re delighted Nando’s have listened to the strength of local feeling, seen sense and shelved this proposal before it hatched.
“There is a time and a place for chicken, but a historic library that forms part of the fabric of Newham’s community was never it.”
The union dubbed the plans “bird-brained” and pointed out that the site has hosted political speakers such as Labour Party founder Keir Hardie and suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst.
Nando’s said in a statement: “We always want to be a good neighbour and work in harmony with the communities we are part of.
“It has become clear that the history of the library building and its deep association with certain groups in the community means there are very strong feelings about how it should be used.
“As a result of these unique circumstances, we have decided not to proceed with our application.”
The council has yet to comment.
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