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‘Year-long’ delay in opening of new Dalston library slammed by campaigners

PUBLISHED: 13:29 04 November 2011 | UPDATED: 16:02 04 November 2011

Council blames ‘unanticipated’ technical problems for lengthy hold up, which means the library and archives may not open until early 2012

Hackney Council has been slammed over delays to Dalston’s £3.8million library after it emerged the new facility may not open until almost a year after originally scheduled.

Dalston CLR James Library and Hackney Archives, underneath the towering Dalston Square development, was supposed to open in the spring this year.

But “unanticipated” technical problems now mean frustrated residents may not be able to use the resource until early 2012.

Posters in the windows of the building advertise an opening in 2011, but a spokesman for the town hall this week could only confirm it would be “as soon as possible”.

The delays have been heavily criticised by Hackney’s Black & Ethnic Minority Arts Network (BEMA), which led a successful campaign last year calling for the new library to retain the name of CLR James.

It has been working on an exhibition of the Afro-Trinidadian writer for the library’s launch and hoped it would take place in Black History Month last month.

Chairman Ngoma Bishop said: “I think it is very unsatisfactory. The enthusiasm that was generated with the building and imminent opening has been lost. It’s an opportunity that’s missed and there’s a danger of it becoming a bit of a damp squib.

“I can’t think why there should be such a long delay. It must be due to either a lack of competence or a lack of will.”

The original home of Hackney Archives in De Beauvoir Road’s Rose Lipman Library has already closed and services at the old CLR James Library in Dalston Lane have been reduced for months.

The council spokesman said the delay was down to modifications to shelving in the library and problems with climate control in the space to be used to house Hackney’s irreplaceable historical archives.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, said: “The new library and archives will be a fantastic community resource when it opens.

“I want to reassure residents that we are doing everything we can to open the library as soon as possible.

“We will be able to make an announcement about the opening in the next few weeks.”


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