Nando’s has ditched plans to open a restaurant in an East End library where the GMB was founded after facing a backlash from the trade union.
The 425-strong chain had set its sights on taking over a site within the Grade II listed Canning Town Library.
Negotiations were underway to turn the first floor of the building into a new branch and its plans were recommended for approval by Newham council.
But yesterday the company pulled out after facing opposition from the GMB, which had labelled the plans “bird-brained”.
The site is famous for hosting political speakers such as Keir Hardie and Sylvia Pankhurst, and gave birth to GMB in the 1880s.
Warren Kenny, GMB regional secretary, said: “We’re delighted Nando’s have listened to the strength of local feeling, seen sense and shelved this proposal before it hatched. There is a time and a place for chicken, but a historic library that forms part of the fabric of Newham’s community was never it.
“GMB looks forward to working with the council and local community to develop a plan for Canning Town Library that ensures the historic legacy of the building lives on as a community asset for generations to come.”
A spokesman for Nando’s told the press that it withdrawn the plans due to the “unique circumstances”.
“It has become clear that the history of the library building and its deep association with certain groups in the community means there are very strong feelings about how it should be used. As a result of these unique circumstances, we have decided not to proceed with our application.”
Reports had suggested the council regarded Nando’s as its “preferred occupier” and that the building was costing “£2,000 per week to maintain”.
It is understood that the GMB wants to turn the building into offices for its staff.