Newham libraries pull Urdu newspapers in English language drive

Urdu newspapers have been pulled from borough libraries in a bid to encourage the use of English.

The decision by Newham Council to remove the publications after more than 40 years has been met with controversy.

Iftikhar Ahmad, 72, has been reading the newspapers since the 1960s and has pledged to fight the authority in court.

Mr Ahmad, of Margery Park Road, Forest Gate, said: “This is politically motivated. The Urdu speaking community is being marginalised and ignored.

“The council do not want to know we exist.”

Mr Ahmad added that the move was unlikely to save money because the Urdu newspapers are being replaced with English ones.

A council spokesman said the newspapers had been removed in order to save money and encourage the use of English — and that free internet access would allow library users to continue reading foreign language newspapers.

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

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

“The council believes that English language skills are key to ensuring residents have personal independence and are able to access as many employment opportunities and public services as possible,” he added.