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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Kept in dark over Croydon libraries

Another letter from a local resident, printed in the local Croydon Guardian:  

At the Cabinet meeting on 13th June, it was agreed to go forward to market test interest in the provision of a borough Library service with the London Borough of Wandsworth and to report back the outcome to Cabinet in September.

Cllr Bashford (Customer Services, Culture and Sport) explained that this could result in a different management of services and that a future provider could be community, volunteer, private or council-led (even a council from outside of Croydon).

She stated the Council had tried to remain “honest and open” throughout the Libraries Network consultation.

I would like to know how the Sunday Express on the 19th June (only 6 days later) was able to report that an American company, Library Systems Services Inc (LSSI) had held meetings with five councils during that previous week “with Croydon becoming the latest borough to consider a deal.”  Not a word of this was mentioned as being in the pipe-line at the Cabinet meeting.

Honest and open? Listening to residents who have voiced time and time again that they want publicly-owned and professionally-run library services?

I am fed up finding out about what is potentially going on for my local library via the media rather than from the Council itself. A Council which purports to be not only listening to us but serving us.

Given the bad press that LSSI has acquired, I do hope for the sake of all Croydon residents and library staff that the Council considers every option and nuance in detail before being blinded by the promise of pound signs for their much depleted coffers at any given opportunity.

Moreover, would it really have done any harm to have put their suggestion of market-testing to one side and instead considered a cross-party commission into libraries offering the chance of further deliberation of viable options for our libraries?

Unsurprisingly, at the time of writing, (20th June) there has still not been an official announcement of the agreement to market-test provision of Croydon’s library services. Anybody might think the Council is trying to keep residents in the dark.

Further, it should be noted that at the time of posting this on 12th July there has still been no official announcement.

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