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Thursday, 11 August 2011

Residents comments disregarded and many denied a say on libraries

We are very thankful to the Croydon Guardian who has raised the issue of the silence over Croydon libraries in their letters page over the past few weeks, which you can read here, here and here .

What may not be clear to residents though is why campaigners would be claiming that many have been denied a say and that residents' comments have been disregarded.  We are happy to set out our justification for this:
  • Despite admitting that the responses to the Libraries consultation were predominantly from the users of the six libraries listed, the council are now happy to deny giving all Croydon residents an opportunity to have a say by consulting the users of the other seven libraries or agreeing to Labour's cross part commission on libraries. 
  • The council are equally happy to disregard Question 6 in the consultation, which allowed residents the opportunity to indicate they did not wish any changes to the library service by prioritising the ‘do nothing’ option over any closure of any library, which campaigners know was the preferred option of the majority.  
Library campaigners certainly did not get the message that residents wanted the council to find an alternate organisation to run the libraries.   
By refusing to provide a breakdown of the 412 responses  that Cllr Sara Bashford claims informed this decision  it is very unclear how many well intentioned responses of adding a cafe or other money generating venture, suggestions of sponsorship, advertising and so forth have been used to indicate a vote for outsourcing to other organisations.   
  • Many residents are completely unaware of the 'market sounding' exercise as the council has denied residents clear information, not advertised the decision and has failed to make clear ALL Croydon libraries are included, not just the original six under threat.  
  • Despite assurances, Campaign groups and Residents' Associations continue to be denied any official update on the situation or any information since the decision to market test was taken on 13th June.
The lack of openness, lack of clarity and lack of information naturally raises suspicions that, come September, the fate of Croydon libraries will be presented, fait accompli, denying residents any say on the matter.

1 comment:

  1. Do they give any reasons as to why they are not looking into shared back office costs with other authorties. Eight out ten of the authorities in the future libraries project are doing this. The two that are not Oxfordshire and Kent are shire authorites where supposedly shared services won't work (according to them). Ask to see their CIPFA library submissions for the past few years, it will show where the costs are and have increased, whether on staff, capital charges or service support costs or other things.