Campaign to bring back language papers

A campaign has been launched to urge Newham Council to reinstate launguage newspapers in the libraries across the borough.

It is led by the Newham Monitoring Project which has written to Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales asking how the council came to its decision to withdraw community language newspapers.

A petition urging the council to reinstate community newspapers already has 200 signatures.

A spokeswoman for the project said: “This new policy has been introduced under the guise of reducing barriers to learning English that mother-tongue newspapers and books are supposedly responsivble for creating and maintaining.

“We totally disagree with both the decision and the assumptions that it is based on.”

The project wants the council to reinstate the newspapers, prioritise fudning and resources to the provision of English as a Second Language, and commit to the continued provision of community-language books and audio books in the borough’s libraries.

Ramesh Verma , the director of EKTA, an organisation that works with elderly Asian people, said: “It has taken us 25 years to empower our older people who are isolated to gain the confidence to engage with local community services suchas the libraries & after all this hard work - it feels like we have gone backwards.”

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Last month, in response to the removal of Urdu newspapers, a council spokesman said the newspapers had been removed in order to save money and encourage the use of English.

He said: “During the next four years funding from central government to Newham will be cut by �75million.

“We are, therefore, having to make difficult decisions about council services in order to make savings.”

He added the decision had been made in order to focus resources on helping people learn English.

“The council believes that English language skills are key to ensuring residents have personal independence,” the spokesman said.