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Library Locals - listening to our residents

Conversations with residents over proposed improvements to Library Local branches in the borough are to continue after the Council extended its public consultation.



The Council’s vision for the borough’s Library Locals is for them to match up to the best public libraries in London, with no reduction in the number of branches and no one living further than 1.5 miles from their nearest library.



In addition to the current library service they provide, the Council’s improvement proposals would see the branches have upgraded ICT facilities; self-service technology; improved spaces for personal study; comfortable social spaces; meeting spaces for library and community use; and space and flexibility to accommodate events and activities.



There has been a good response to date from people expressing a range of different views on the proposals, and the Council is capturing all this feedback.



In response to what residents have said so far, and their wish to be asked what they think of the proposed relocations, the Council has provided more information and is asking those questions in a new consultation survey.



Anyone who has yet to have their say now has until 31 January 2017 to complete the new consultation survey, and if they have not already done so the original survey too. Those who have already expressed their opinions are encouraged to respond to the new survey.



The consultation extension – something the Council said it would be open to in July’s Cabinet report – gives residents more time to view and consider the proposed options, and share their opinions. The Council is keen to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to have their say.



“We’ve been listening to residents’ views about our vision for Waltham Forest’s Library Locals, and feel more time is needed to enable further consultation with the community about future plans, and make sure we’ve been as clear as possible about potential improvements,” said Cllr Sharon Waldron, Cabinet Member for Digital and Customer Services.



“We know how well-loved our library service is – something clearly evidenced by the response to our consultation so far. That’s why we’re committed to making our library service better at a time when neighbouring authorities are reducing theirs – something we have no intention of doing.”



The Council’s preferred improvement option is that the Library Locals at Higham Hill and Wood Street would be relocated and remodelled into more modern and accessible buildings that are closer to other community facilities, while the site at Lea Bridge would be refurbished.



The Council hopes to hear from as many people as possible, whether they typically use Waltham Forest’s libraries or not.



Cllr Waldron continued: “Through this process we want to ensure that future improvements to Library Locals will help to create a library service for the whole community. Residents deserve a high quality, 21st Century library service that meets their needs and is easily accessible.”



Whatever decision is taken, the Council will work with the local community to discuss options around detailed plans for the Library Locals. 



This approach not only aims to create higher quality libraries, but will also help safeguard these popular community facilities for future generations.



For more information and to have your say, visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/libraryconsultation.

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For out of hours please email media@walthamforest.gov.uk or call 07966 915 157.