LOCAL campaigners were celebrating last night following a council decision to defer cutbacks to Redbridge’s local studies archive.

Plans to reduce opening hours, make staff cutbacks and introduce an “appointments only” system were deferred at last night’s budget meeting until April.

Campaign groups including the Wanstead Historical Society and the Wanstead Parklands Community Project have been vocally opposed to the proposals and viewed the decision as a victory.

Richard Arnopp, of the Wanstead Parklands Community Project, said: “This is tremendous news - this unique resource, used by thousands of local residents, is now safe.”

At the beginning of the meeting, campaigner Alan Cornish, along with seven others, issued a plea to councillors for the service to be saved.

Speaking at the meeting, he said: "Erosion of this service looks like the precursor of a total loss of the entire archive – an irretrievable loss to researchers, to this community, and to future communities.

"Such loss of material will steadily escalate, in the absence of clear and unambiguous confirmation that the full archive service will remain."

Councillors agreed to defer the decision on the cutbacks shortly after 8pm.

Mr Arnopp added: "We greatly appreciate the support we received in advance from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, as well as from members of the Conservative group.

“The gracious comments by Conservative leader Keith Prince and Alan Weinberg [cabinet member for leisure] at the meeting were also very welcome.

"It is gratifying to see that the value of the service to local people has been recognised.”

Plans to reduce the archive service, to get rid of three street cleaner jobs, to cut £70,000 from the adult social services budget, to reduce highways officer support to area committees, and scrap concessionary rates for over-60s allotment holders will now be addressed again on April 1.