London

Newham's libraries remove foreign language newspapers

Publications in a Newham library
Image caption Foreign language newspapers are no longer available on Newham's libraries shelves

One of London's most culturally-diverse boroughs has removed foreign language newspapers from its libraries.

Sir Robin Wales, elected Labour Mayor of Newham, in east London, said removing the papers would "encourage people to speak and learn English".

But a Newham resident has described the move as an "appalling" and "drastic" measure.

About 150 languages are spoken in the borough and many residents speak English only as a second language.

The council is yet to confirm how many different foreign language newspapers it previously provided but residents say they were previously able to read Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali and Hindi publications in Newham's libraries.

'My roots'

Resident Priyonath Singh, 76, said: "It's appalling. It's a drastic measure. If you remove the newspapers, my mental age will be reduced completely.

"The newspapers evoke our conscience. They deal with the news so I can live in the past and in the present.

"It's great to know what is happening about my roots and what is going to happen to the future generation."

But Sir Robin said: "English language is something that we're pushing very strongly.

"Two things about the English language: You need it to get a job; secondly it brings a community together.

"Public money should be spent encouraging people to speak and learn English. Whenever I raise that with my residents they all agree with that."

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