Council candidate proposes renovation project for endangered library

Unused rooms at Cubitt Town Library. Pic: Tower Hamlets Conservatives

A proposal to create a community hub in Cubitt Town Library is being led by Tower Hamlets conservative council candidate, Sofia Taveira de Sousa.

Taveira de Sousa says the idea came to her after she learned about unused rooms in the library.

“I found out that the rooms above it have been closed for years. Which is a waste of space we actually need,” she told Eastlondonlines.

Her discovery followed recent closure of the Isle of Dogs police station and plans by the council to cut back services at the library earlier this year.

While protests by locals motivated the council to create a revised budget and reverse their cutback plans, the decision was temporary and is set to be reviewed in the middle 2022.

She told ELL: “I started hearing from different people, counsellors and residents, that we should renovate it and make it a good space for the community so that the council doesn’t have any reasons to close it down.”

In preparation of the review date, Taveira de Sousa is suggesting renovation work is undertaken to open up the first floor of the library for community activities.

“My first idea was to turn it into some kind of police hub, because our only police station on the island was closed down because the Mayor of London decided to sell it.” she said.

Pic. Sophia Taveira de Sousa

 “The nearest police station now is in Bethnal Green, which is quite far. If they work in Bethnal Green, there is no incentive for them to come over to the islands and patrol.”

Tower Hamlets is one of the most densely populated boroughs in the UK, and is the area experiencing some of the fastest development and population growth, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics.

To gather more ideas, De Sousa created a survey for residents to share their views on the renovation idea, but said she doesn’t plan to share the data anywhere. “The survey was a tool for me to get feedback from the community and understand what people think.” She told ELL. “If I see the facts, I can speak with more confidence.”

According to De Sousa the renovation work will not cost much. “We’re not asking them to do a big renovation, it is really just cleaning up the dust and maybe putting a carpet and then making the bathroom accessible because it is all dirty.”

In a tweet replying to the survey, Island Gardens Conservative councillor Peter Golds said “Well done Sofia. An imaginative idea to enhance and protect our historic library.”

The idea would be supported by the council’s Local Infrastructure Fund, a fund used to support local projects and address the demands and pressures that development places on an area.

To date, De Sousa has received 15 responses and is accepting ideas from the public until December 20. Anyone interested in participating can find the survey here.

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