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Newham’s mayor clashes with union over Nando’s plan for Canning Town Library

PUBLISHED: 12:22 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:22 08 October 2018

A decision to turn the Grade II listed building into a chicken restaurant has been deferred for more community consultation. Picture: Rachael Burford

A decision to turn the Grade II listed building into a chicken restaurant has been deferred for more community consultation. Picture: Rachael Burford

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Newham’s mayor has clashed with trade union GMB over proposals to turn Canning Town Library into a chicken restaurant.

Newham’s mayor has clashed with trade union GMB over proposals to turn Canning Town Library into a chicken restaurant.

At a council meeting tonight (Monday), proposals are being put forward to turn the ground floor of the Grade II listed building into a Nando’s.

GMB criticised Newham Council for allowing the proposals to go ahead, but Newham’s mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, claims she knew nothing about them.

GMB’s regional secretary Warren Kenny said: “This bird-brained move by Newham Council shows an utter disregard for east London’s proud history.

“GMB understands local authorities have been driven to the wall by the Conservative’s austerity project. But we had been in talks with Newham about turning the library in to a learning space – which GMB would have had offices in.

“Instead they’ve chosen to feather their own nest and allow GMB’s birthplace to become yet another chicken shop.”

On Twitter, GMB’s general secretary, Tim Roache, said the union would be fighting the proposals.

Ms Fiaz replied, asking why no GMB councillors approached her about the issue when she was elected in May. The mayor, who is also a GMB member, said she only found out about the proposals in an article published last week.

The library has hosted political speakers including Keir Hardie, Sylvia Pankhurst, and GMB’s founder, Will Thorne. In 1889, he gave a speech in the building, shortly before opening the union.

It closed last year and services were moved to a community centre in Rathbone Market. Council officers said it was costing “£2,000 per week to maintain the security of the building” and Nando’s was identified as the “preferred occupier”.

A Nando’s spokeswoman said: “We’re really excited to bring our delicious Peri-Peri chicken to the area and create new jobs. We know the library building means a lot to the community. That’s why we’re planning to keep as much of the building’s original features and character as we can.”

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