Labour Chief Pledges That Wimbledon Library Is Safe

Building is taken off potential development list

Wimbledon Library has been taken off a list of potential development sites after protestors campaigned against the plans.

The historic building had been placed on Merton Council's list of sites earmarked for future development. A "Save Wimbledon Library Group" had been set up in protest.

The ruling Labour group had said there was no threat to the library, but it was included on the list as a better town centre site may become available in the future for a library.

But council leader Stephen Alambritis said yesterday: "Unlike other councils around the country, Merton's Labour council has not only kept all of our libraries open during these difficult financial times, we have gone further and increased overall opening times.

"To avoid any ongoing confusion or false rumours I am removing any reference to Wimbledon Library from the recent council document that has been so misrepresented. And, let me be crystal clear - no ifs, no buts - it is only under Labour in Merton that Wimbledon Library remains safe both today and in the future."

Wimbledon's Lib Dem parliamentary campaigner Shas Sheehan said: "A strong campaign led by a Wimbledon resident, Andrew Craig Nicol, has seen off the threat that the inclusion of the library in the Sites and Policies Plan would have brought.

"It was always clear that the Labour administration did not have a leg to stand on when they said they merely wanted to 'retain and improve the library'. The question was then, why include it in the Sites and Policies Plan with a proposed change of use, which would have enabled commercial developers to circle the property?

"Labour have admitted defeat in the face of the strong reaction from residents, and have said they will remove it from the offending document.

"Without the support of thousands of residents for Mr Nicol's campaign to see off the threat, we would still be looking at the possibility of our library going the way of the old Wimbledon Town Hall.

"Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and submitted comments - it really made a difference".

What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?

August 2, 2013