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Improving your local libraries

Residents are set to be asked what they think of a new plan for the borough’s four Library Locals, which aims to improve the facilities for families across Waltham Forest.

The Council’s vision is for the Library Locals in Hale End, Higham Hill, Wood Street and Lea Bridge to match up to the best public library facilities in London and have the built-in flexibility to adapt to future service needs.

To achieve this, the Council’s Cabinet is being asked to consider a proposal to relocate and remodel the Library Locals at Hale End, Higham Hill and Wood Street and remodel and refurbish the site at Lea Bridge.

If approved during a Cabinet meeting on 12 July, a public consultation will be launched in order to gather resident’s views on the proposal.

Councillor Sharon Waldron, Cabinet Member for Digital and Customer Services, said: “We know how much residents value their local libraries, so at a time when neighbouring authorities are reducing or closing them, we want to invest in our libraries and make them even better.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to improve Waltham Forest’s library service, this proposal involves relocating three Library Locals into more modern and accessible buildings that are closer to other community facilities. This approach not only aims to create higher quality libraries, but will also help safeguard these popular community facilities for future generations.

“We’re committed to creating a 21st century library service in attractive and welcoming spaces which best support and promote literacy, numeracy, reading and access to digital services – and rival other high quality local library buildings in capital.”

As part of the proposal, the new-look Library Locals would better recognise the varying needs of different age groups and support younger people to get the most from their library experience. And, the proposed relocations would ensure the Council continues to deliver its commitment of ensuring that every resident lives within 1.5 miles of their nearest library.

Relocating the three Library Locals would also result in a more cost-effective service, provide greater accessibility for residents, enable reinvestment in the service and create opportunities for the old sites to be considered for much-needed new homes.

Currently, Higham Hill Library’s services are affected by the poor condition of the building, which was classed as being beyond its useful life in 2011. Relocation would provide the opportunity for the Library Local to be at the centre of a new community hub, either directly delivering or facilitating services that will support the learning, employment and social and cultural aspirations of local residents.

For Hale End Library, relocation offers an opportunity to place the library in a busier and more accessible location while offering greater flexibility of space.

Wood Street Library, which has also been assessed as being beyond its useful life, has significant maintenance costs. It is proposed it would be relocated further down Wood Street, within a new community space.

Lea Bridge Library underwent a £1.1 million refurbishment in 2010, which means the building needs limited remodelling to bring it up to the standard the Council is seeking as part of its vision for Library Locals.

If the Library Locals proposal is approved by Cabinet on 12 July, the Council will provide full details about how residents can take part in a public consultation.

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