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Monday, 30 January 2012

Croydon denies intention to sell its share of Upper Norwood Library

Croydon's treatment of Upper Norwood Joint Library has appeared in the Evening Standard today. You can read the article here: Legal row 'an excuse to close Library'

The article reports that Upper Norwood Library's future is in doubt after Croydon pulled out of the agreement in place to fund the library jointly with Lambeth. Croydon funding will only last until April 2012. 

The article also reports that,
"Local residents claim Croydon wants to sell its share of the building - an allegation denied by the council."
But who denied this claim?  The proposition put to Lambeth was very clear, as we outlined in an earlier post

  1. Buy Croydon’s half share of all UNJL assets and accept responsibility for the UNJL.
  2.  Take a lease of Croydon's half share in the premises and become solely responsible for the UNJL.
  3. Agree that the library will be sold with the proceeds, after settlement of all costs, equally divided between the two boroughs.

Deidre Mahon, a member of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign group is quoted in the Evening Standard article, 
"This is about a disagreement between two councils and they're using a legal agreement to get out of providing a community library....Croydon have asked their valuers to go in and be discreet about it and plan to sell their share. If Croydon walks away and there are no alternative monies to fund the shortfall there's no way the library can stay open."
This certainly accords with Inside Croydon's account of events, which includes the text of a letter sent by Croydon's CEO, Jon Rouse, to his Lambeth counterpart, outline just such a plan.

What possible motive would Croydon have for setting out such a plan and then undertaking a valuation exercise of the freehold of the property and its assets, at an estimated cost of £6,500, if they do not intend to act on this? Rouse's letter makes clear that Croydon are still pursuing the options of selling off the library or of leasing the building for three years only, with an option to buy at the end of the lease. 

At no point does there seem to be any mention of Croydon exploring any other options other than cutting and running.

Questions for Cllr Sara Bashford

We wrote of our doubts regarding the veracity of this article in the Croydon Advertiser only yesterday.
You can read it here

Were we just a little cynical, we wondered?  But then  this seemingly unrelated article in the Streatham Guardian was brought to our attention, regarding the full Lambeth Council meeting, held on Wednesday 25th January 2012. 

Here, amongst the other details of council business and the plight of Streatham Library, 
is this statement,  
"Councillors also approved a motion condemning Conservatives at Croydon Council for their decision to withdraw funding the Upper Norwood Library, which is jointly run by both councils."
No wonder Cllr Sara Bashford was so keen to give the Croydon Advertiser another Croydon Council "exclusive" on libraries, trying to spin things in a more positive light.

Can Lambeth really be getting things so very wrong? Has Croydon really reversed its decision to withdraw from the management of Upper Norwood Joint Library, along with withdrawing any further financial support? We doubt it.

We will publish any comment Cllr Sara Bashford chooses to provide to make clear the situation. She has not engaged with campaigners so far but we remain open to hearing from her.  Let us and all Croydon residents know the real situation please, Cllr Bashford.
  • What is the current situation with regard to Upper Norwood Joint Library and what financial commitment has been made, if any, post April 2012?
  • And what is the exact situation with Croydon libraries in general? 
You gave the message that all libraries were reprieved, there would be no closures, but word reaches us that New Addington is to close.  It will be shoe-horned into limited space in the CALAT (Adult Ed) Centre, along with the Job Centre, an existing nursery and CALAT (who campaigners were told knew of the loss of half their teaching space of six classrooms BEFORE the consultation results were made public or move announced). It has been reported that you, as cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, took this decision without knowing what space might be available to accommodate the library. You could also not make any commitment as to to the level of  book stock that might be available in the new setting - suspected to be the foyer area with revolving door, making it unsuitable as insecure for those with young children.

A local group 'New Addington Pathfinders' seem to be allaying fears of concerned residents by advising that library users can order any book they desire. This has not been the case since at least April 2011, as some have already pointed out.  Added to this, any reservation from within the Croydon libraries network attracts a charge of £1.10 - quite a tall price to pay for a free public library service - not only pay for the privilege of reserving a book you wish to borrow because it is not held in your library but with the added cost in time in the delay accessing the item required. Some residents report delays of six to eight weeks, including books showing as being in stock in another Croydon library. If this policy has been amended we are sure Croydon residents will be delighted.

And why is the book stock being boxed up, across the borough?  Is it true that the lure of selling off stock at 10p an item to an external company, who will sell on what they can, and recycle what they can't, really the prime motive?  Is it a tactic to reduce the book stock to pave the way, as a sweetener, for those bidders who are successful in procuring the service, to allow them to make the claims to have improved the book stock of the service, as they will be able to regarding the now depleted permanent staffing? Or is it really a promoting of Croydon Libraries, that "less is more" - less choice leads to more borrowing?  Very interesting thinking indeed.  We have to share with you that this particular 'strategy' has elicited quite a bit of amusement, indeed belly-laugh, laugh out loud moments! - If only it were not such a serious issue, Cllr Bashford.

We are offering you the opportunity to speak with us, negotiate, communicate and give a clear position to Croydon. Please take up our offer.

If you would like Cllr Bashford to speak frankly, maybe you might like to prompt her by requesting she respond to this post.  You can email her at:

And do let us know how you get on.  Feel free to BCC or CC us in at or add your comments here.

Please remember to add a name to your posts.  It adds more weight!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

More Croydon spin - Upper Norwood Joint Library

The following post appeared on the Croydon Advertiser website early Saturday 28th January, reproduced below.

The article states that Croydon and Lambeth Councils have met to discuss the future of Upper Norwood Library. The future of the 111-year-old library, in Westow Hill, has been cast into doubt after Croydon terminated its joint agreement with Lambeth. It points out that a packed public meeting was held in November 2011 as a result of this, and that Lambeth Cllr Florence Nosegbe explained to all at this meeting, that,
"...she had been trying to get Croydon around the table, but to no avail."

The Croydon Advertiser goes on to state that,
"Now both parties have met and talks have been described as "positive".
But described as positive by whom? Certainly a strange journalistic style to employ. No direct quote from Lambeth's Cllr Nosegbe nor any comment from the very active campaign group for this library. Why could this be?

The only offering from the Advertiser, something that will not come as any great surprise to most Croydon residents, is a quote from Croydon's Councillor Bashford, dubbed "Book Token" Bashford by the sometimes acerbic but always astute blog, Inside Croydon, which has covered the Croydon libraries in multiple posts such as Croydon's timeline of deceit and the secret meetings and outsourcing plans for our libraries.
The Advertiser quotes Cllr Bashford,
"The latest update is there have been meetings in the second week of January between Lambeth and Croydon. We've talked about how we can move forward and it was very constructive. We haven't said we are closing the library, what we said is we can't work with Lambeth in the way we have in the past."

Many welcomed the news and saw it as a cause for celebration, given the dismal history of this much loved, well used, efficient library, jointly funded by Lambeth and Croydon Councils. You can find the full sorry story on the Upper Norwood Library Campaign site but here is just a snippet of the problems in recent years. A quick look at this and it can't  help escape the reader's notice that Croydon Cllr Eddy Arram is again referred to in less than favourable terms here, but we've covered the antics of this councillor on libraries before here and more recently here, where he seems to have earner the title of "gaff-prone Eddy".

But the following questions need to be posed:

Why only a comment from Croydon's Cllr Bashford and not from her Lambeth counterpart, Cllr Florence Nosegbe?

Why no comment from any one of the hundreds of people who turned out in force for the public meeting in November?

And perhaps, most curious of all, why refer to a meeting held two weeks prior?  Why the delay?  And why no mention of the public meeting held only the night before?

Could it be that this was a ploy to deflect from the focus of campaigners, holding an Emergency General meeting, only the night before this article was posted? Wouldn't this have afforded the Croydon Advertiser the ideal opportunity to assess views for themselves directly and to get real quotes from actual people involved on all sides? Wouldn't any decent journalist seek to get all views on the situation and attribute comments to real people, rather than just referring vaguely to,
".. talks being described as "positive". "
Well, we'd like to draw attention to the following statements made, apparently not available to the thorough team at the Croydon Advertiser but found by many residents and library campaigners within hours of their release. We think they shed a slightly less rosy hue on the situation and help to explain the reason for the carefully chosen words of Croydon Council.

 From Cllr Steve Reed, the Leader of Lambeth Council on Friday 27th January, 2012
"Lambeth Council supports the Upper Norwood Joint Library and we want to see it continue serving the local community into the future. We oppose the Croydon Conservatives’ attempt to close it down by withdrawing their share of the funding. Croydon’s claims that there has been any breach of the Agreement by Lambeth is untrue and is a smokescreen behind which they hope to hide their plans to close the library down. By cutting funding without a year’s notice we believe it is Croydon who have breached their legal obligations and the joint agreement.
Lambeth commits to maintaining our share of funding for this library. We call on Croydon to withdraw their immediate closure plans, withdraw their plans to sell off the building, and sit down with us and community representatives to agree a way forward. We would like to explore the idea of setting up a community trust to own and run the Upper Norwood Joint Library with funding from both Lambeth and Croydon councils. We believe that will safeguard the library from future attempts by Croydon Council to close this library.”

This was accompanied by a statement from Croydon Labour Leader Cllr Tony Newman, 

“Can I thank Steve and his team in Lambeth for standing alongside the community and Croydon's Labour Councillors in fighting Croydon Conservatives clear attempt to close the Upper Norwood Library, a community trust would secure the libraries long term future and remove the threat of Councillor Fisher ever holding a gun to the libraries head again."

Then there was this statement Croydon Cllr Sara Bashford gave to the Upper Norwood Library Campaign for the meeting held on Friday evening,

‎"I am pleased that discussions are now taking place between Croydon and Lambeth. We are discussing possible ways forward for the future of UNJL. Croydon's position on entering a new agreement has not changed but we hope the discussions will allow Lambeth to develop new management arrangements for the Library, in line with the report on libraries produced by their Commission recently. However, these discussions are on-going, so there is, as yet, no outcome to report."

And one for her counterpart on Lambeth Council, Cllr Florence Nosegbe,

"Unfortunately the discussions with LB Croydon have not progressed as far as I would have liked – as you can appreciate a number of Officers and Councillors were away over the Christmas period.

I know that a number of residents are worried about the future of the Library, however Lambeth’s position as I started when I attended the meeting in November 2011, has not changed. We still remain committed to the library and working with the campaign group, local residents and councillors to secure its future."

Perhaps Cllr Bashford and the Croydon's Conservative group are particularly keen to send out vaguely worded positive messages after Inside Croydon exposed the shocking approaches Croydon have been employing. You can read the full text of the Inside Croydon post here, including the text of a letter from Jon Rouse, Croydon's CEO, to his counterpart in Lambeth, outlining Croydon's firm decision, unreasonable time frames and pleas for discretion - which many interpret as pleas for secrecy. 

And let's not forget the actual words of Cllr Bashford in her statement (our emphasis), 
"Croydon's position on entering a new agreement has not changed but we hope the discussions will allow Lambeth to develop new management arrangements for the Library, in line with the report on libraries produced by their Commission recently. However, these discussions are on-going, so there is, as yet, no outcome to report."
Seems pretty clear what the real situation is when you balance the actual words of Cllr Bashford with those of  all the others and pit them against this flimsy article by the Croydon Advertiser, don't you think?
Image courtesy of Phil Bradley at

National Libraries Day looms! 4th February 2012

Save Croydon Libraries Campaign has received the following message from Voices for the Library, which we share here.
"As you are obviously aware, February 4th 2012 marks the very first National Libraries Day - an opportunity to celebrate the important contribution public libraries make to our society.  Whilst the day is about celebration, it is also about highlighting the extent to which our public library service is being destroyed by short-sighted and undemocratic policies.
In light of this, we would like to highlight and promote the protest actions that are going to be taking place up and down the country.  We have created a Facebook group to enable people to add details of any protest actions here: and people can add details of any protest action here:
 If you are not on Facebook, please email us with details of any protest actions that are taking place to that we can share them with our supporters and raise awareness of what is happening across the country.
Please pass this information on to as many people as possible. 
Best wishes and all the best for National Libraries Day,
Ian Clark
Voices for the Library"
So what is happening in Croydon?  Er, NOTHING, as far as we can ascertain. Despite a string of organisations supporting National Libraries Day, including CILIP, The Society of Chief Librarians, The Reading Agency, Campaign for the Book, Voices for the Library, the Library Campaign, National Literacy Trust...the list goes on...Croydon Council library service has not replied to enquiries from residents on the subject and we are told that library staff say they know nothing of National Libraries Day.

Authorities who really care about their library service are actively promoting this event in their libraries on council websites, via facebook and on twitter. You can view all the ways authorities are celebrating libraries on the day - some innovative, some very simple, but all showing a commitment to promoting libraries, by clicking on the interactive map here.

For example:

Portsmouth Council is holding an amnesty on late fees, advertised on their website. Details are here, reproduced below.

Sheffield Council are on board, offering a range of special events. 

Northamptonshire Council is teaming up with the a local branch of the WI to promote the event. 

Others tweet to spread the word.

But back to Croydon, Croydon Council is not doing anything to promote the day and as a campaign group we don't propose to organise anything officially.


Last year residents in Sanderstead tried to organise a walk to the library and Read -In but plans were thwarted when they met with the most remarkable amount of red tape and extremely unreasonable demands being placed on them by the local authority, should the event proceed.

But we will not be dissuaded from celebrating our much loved library service, and in so doing, showing appreciation for the staff who are working under increasingly difficult circumstances in our libraries. So, again, we suggest residents decide for themselves how they wish to mark the day. You might like to:

  • Spread the word about why we should all love our libraries. Why not tweet using  #NLD12 ‘I love my library because…’ You can follow us on twitter at @SaveSanderstead and @SaveCroydonLibs. Copy us in and we will retweet you!  There is also an active @SaveUNLibrary group for Upper Norwood
  • Join our  facebook group and add a comment if you like, or just keep up to date with the latest news.  
  • Join the library! We know many rely on family members to borrow books for others. Get your own card and show your support! A library card is the passport to a whole new world in your library and on line.  
  • Voice your support for Croydon libraries and our remaining libraries staff by email or in person.  Please CC or BCC us in at! Again we will use the text but not your email details. 
  • The simple act of entering a library affects footfall figures.  Visit your library, if only to show the staff on duty how much we value them and our libraries!
  • Send a comment, as you would wish it to appear, in support of Croydon Libraries, to Please 'sign' the comment. We will not disclose your email, just the post. We will accept posts from individuals (please including your name as you would wish it to appear e.g.
    a  library supporter
    Jamal, 5 years
    Upper Norwood Library Campaign
    or simply add your comment to this post, using the above criteria please.

Just click on Name/URL tab in the drop down, if you do not have access to other profile options.  You do not need to provide a URL for this option to work, Just enter the name you wish to appear.

Send us your own ideas.  We'll be happy to add them.

And, should you wish to write, paint, draw or photograph something to celebrate Croydon libraries please share them with us!

Image thanks to Phil Bradley -

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Upper Norwood - History to Current Crisis

The following information is provided by Upper Norwood Library Campaign as background to the Upper Norwood Library situation, now at crisis point.

Since opening in 1900, Upper Norwood library has been jointly and equally funded by Croydon and Lambeth Councils.

In response to a number of funding crises in the early 2000’s, a legal agreement (UNJL Agreement) between the two funding boroughs was put in place in 2006 to secure funding and a management structure for the library until 2014. Under this agreement, both borough councils were entitled to have at least two local ward councillors on the management board.

Until 2010 Croydon Council honoured this and the management board consisted of cross-party reps and members of the community.  From 2010 Croydon Council chose NOT to include local ward councillors instead, they placed councillors from the furthest reaches of the borough who, even with the best will in the world, weren’t ever going to represent the area as well as local councillors. 

Of course this riled both locals and the Lambeth Councillors and many efforts were made to discuss this with Croydon Council in a fair and open manner.  Croydon Council did not respond responsibly and instead chose to play petty party politics at the expense of a strong willed and galvanised community.   Lambeth Council felt strongly enough not to take part in the AGM of 2010 and 2011.  In fact, it was advised that the presence of non-local ward councillors would render the meeting inquorate.

It is alleged that, being totally aware of the situation, Croydon Council knowingly and shamelessly mislead the local community at the aborted 2011 AGM.  In fact the Upper Norwood campaign group claim that Cllr Sara Bashford, the Croydon Council Member of Cabinet,  has repeatedly misled the community and Lambeth Council on this matter.

In October 2011 (following the aborted 2011 AGM), Croydon determined to withdraw from the agreement and in doing so would cut funding at the end of this financial year (March 2012) leaving the library with a shortfall of required revenues of around £200K. Under the UNJL Agreement, if either party breaches it, they are not obligated to serve the mandatory 12 month notice period. 

So why did Croydon Council (in October 2011) determine that it would no longer fund its 50% share? 

It has cited that Lambeth Council has breached a legal agreement (the UNJL Agreement) by non- attendance at the 2010 and 2011 AGMs.  Lambeth has for two years been advising Croydon Council that it is in breach by not allowing local ward councillors to sit on the Management Board.  Campaigners maintain what is certain is that in the middle of all of this petty political point scoring and schoolboy debate is a society of decent folk being crushed by a few self-serving council officials who have not shown any respect to the community over this issue.  Rather, campaigners claim, they have displayed contempt and total arrogance.

Since 2010, Croydon Council has not acted in the interests of its residents (42.5% of library members are Croydon residents – the largest percentage of library users) or the wider Upper Norwood Community.  If it had, it would have at least allowed local ward councillors representation on the library management board or could have explained why it felt it appropriate NOT to do so despite the UNJL Agreement.  Even the least cynical amongst us would question the motive in this behaviour. Everything we now know about the outsourcing of their library service points to a carefully played exit strategy.  By claiming that Lambeth has breached the agreement, they can walk away without the requirement to serve 12 months’ notice. 

Since Croydon’s announcement, Lambeth Council has, with the backing of the local community, sought to negotiate a future for the library with Croydon Council.  Lambeth has put forward various options but these have not been acknowledged by Croydon Council.  Rather, Croydon seems to be resolute in realising their financial assets from the library come what may. This is evidenced in recent correspondence to Lambeth Council, in which they ask Lambeth to carry out valuation works “discreetly” and that there is a “real prospect that the library will close”. This issue has been dealt with in detail on Inside Croydon who have received details of this correspondence. You can find details here:

This is symptomatic of their approach to the community of Upper Norwood. To illustrate the behaviours of these councillors:  a group of community members attended the most recent Croydon Council Cabinet meeting in December 2011.  As a local Ward Councillor took his opportunity to address the cabinet on the subject, we saw the senior Croydon Cabinet members (including Cllr Mike Fisher - Leader Croydon Council) literally laughing in the face of the impassioned cause of the councillor who was representing the views and opinions of the community which he serves.  Is this really acceptable behaviour of elected councillors or indeed, civil servants?

Furthermore, on the day that it made their announcement to withdraw funding, Croydon Council sent an army of clipboard staff into the library to audit everything and everyone.  This was the first the staff had heard of the situation.

Useful statistics and other information:

1.       Breakdown of library users by the 5 Borough Councils that serve the Upper Norwood area: Bromley 14.3% Croydon 42.5% Lambeth 30.5% Lewisham 3.5% Southwark 8.5%

2.       Croydon Council is seeking to save £25m in costs this year and according to Cllr Fisher that "the majority of these costs come from efficiencies". Of the 150 headcount loss across the council, the hardest hit department is Children, Learning and Families Department which stands to lose 88 posts. This means that the Upper Norwood Joint Library represents at least 11.9% of this headcount loss which is staggering given the size of the borough compared with our small community. Initial budget papers outlining costs savings were agreed at Croydon Cabinet meeting on 12th December.

3.       The nearest alternative libraries are not within walking distance which represents a real problem of access for children, elderly, disabled and infirm people. 

4.       Not all town centres have Town Halls and with the absence of either, where would the centre of community exist for our Big Society? There is no Town Hall in Upper Norwood or within walking distance.

5.       The library is heavily used by job seekers – there is no alternative space for this user group in Upper Norwood.

6.       Various campaign activities have taken place including sending a Model Letter to those below: Cllr Mike Fisher, Leader Croydon Council : Mr Jon Rouse,Croydon Chief Executive: Cllr Steve Reed, Leader Lambeth Council: Derrick Anderson CBE, Lambeth Chief Executive: Val Shawcross AM, GLA: Malcolm Wicks MP: Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP:

7.       There is significant support for the campaign witnessed through on and offline petitions, social media presence, link up with other library campaigns, support from authors and high profile supporters of library services amongst others.

You can follow the campaign on twitter at @saveUNlibrary and on facebook at

Local Council’s ‘Big Society’ Betrayal

Conservative led Croydon Council withdraws funding from its most cost efficient library resource leaving it under serious threat of closure after 111 years community service.

In October 2011, Croydon Council announced that it would withdraw its share of funding for the unique Upper Norwood Joint library based purely on a falling out with its partner of 111 years, Lambeth Council. 

Only last week our Prime Minister showed his support for libraries: 
"Reading matters for two simple reasons,…"If we don't learn to read properly, then everything else in education is a closed book.  But above and beyond that, reading is a joy and a pleasure and it is for life"…"I hope that one day you will look back and think about this school and this great library and everyone who has supported it", he told pupils.  "Because actually there is a huge problem with some kids not having access to books.  And having a library like this…… a really great start in life."
But  why are Croydon Council being so difficult and so keen to renege on their responsibilities for this much loved and well used community library?  It is a question the entire community has been asking itself and Croydon Council for some time now but it all came to a head in October 2011.  The only response received from Croydon Council is beyond staggering – that its partner of 111 years has breached a legal agreement which was put in place to ensure a secure future for the library until 2014. Where is the public mandate for this?   

Campaigners state that Upper Norwood Library
  • is the only independent jointly funded library in the country and it has been that way since it opened to the public 111 years ago – Lambeth and Croydon Borough Councils.
  • is widely regarded as a fine example of the independent model 
  • is at least 50% more cost efficient than libraries in the funding boroughs. 
  • and serves residents from 5 London boroughs (Upper Norwood is on the fringes of these 5 boroughs) 

Budget cuts forcing library closures is a familiar story with 10% of the 4500 UK libraries under threat or already closed.  But the reason for the likely closure of this community library is nothing to do with cuts, or not according to Croydon Council. 

Croydon Council is in the process of outsourcing its entire library network but this does not include Upper Norwood Joint Library. Campaigners for Upper Norwood Library claim that everything that the community now knows, points to a carefully played exit strategy by Croydon Council; Croydon have clearly been planning to outsource their libraries for some time.  

Campaigners are naturally angered at Croydon's handling of the situation, the lack of negotiations with Lambeth and the ultimatum placed before them, which absolves Croydon of any responsibility for the library, as we outlined here.

Despite repeated attempts by Lambeth Council and the community to ask Croydon to co-operate to commit to secure a future for the library, Croydon Council has not been willing.  Rather, it seems resolute in realising its 50% share of assets.

A statement released by Upper Norwood Library Campaign states,
"So if the Government wants to realise its ambitions of putting Britain back at the forefront of innovation and expertise through nurturing vocational learning, fixing our broken society, improving levels of literacy, tackling the exponential problem of rising unemployment for young adults  etc. etc. why allow local Councils to facilitate the closure of community library?  And in this case, one which is well on the way to being an exemplar of what Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and his colleagues aspire to. The Community of Upper Norwood is a Big Society and at the moment, it is being crushed by the actions of a few councillors who think it acceptable to walk away from their responsibilities rather than facing them; the irony here is that the challenges that make their responsibilities harder are of their own making.
We call for Ed Vaizey and Chris White, Chair Local Government Group, to take the matter up personally with Jon Rouse, Chief Executive and Mike Fisher, Leader Croydon Council as a matter of urgency.  They need to be held to account on this matter and to reverse the decision if they cannot substantiate it within the mandated guidelines.
It is high time that these paid officials were called to account by their Westminster colleagues and by the media. They also need to be brought out from the apparent safety of their castle kingdoms and put to the sword by the communities they are breaking.
The Upper Norwood community is passionate about keeping its library and, as fully paid up members of ‘Big Society’, we have to ask, is the current Croydon Council Cabinet?"

To see the history of the crisis click here:

You can follow the campaign.

Twitter: @saveUNlibrary 

And please show your support for Upper Norwood by attending the EGM this Friday to have your say.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Letters respond to "gaff-prone Eddy" tell the truth and remind campaigners

This week it is the Croydon Guardian again who has features letters regarding the Upper Norwood Joint Library.  You can read the letters here on page 21 of this week's edition. All appear to have been written in response to this offering from Cllr Eddy Arram, which we reproduced, with comments, here.

What the letters this week all have in common is that they doubt the words of Cllr Eddy Arram.

John Payne, Chairman of the Crystal Palace Community Association, implores Croydon to work with Lambeth.

Presumably at the time of writing Mr Payne was unaware that Croydon had already set in motion plans to value the library and book stock, all set out in a letter sent after the last post date before Christmas had passed, giving Lambeth unreasonable time scales within which to respond.  You can read the story, which includes a copy of Croydon CEO, Jon Rouse's letter, here.  

Then there is the letter where the writer refers to Croydon's,
 "stubborn, wilful and irresponsible disinclination to comply with the Joint Library Agreement..." 

And finally we have local ward councillor, Pat Ryan, putting Cllr Arram straight.  

Cllr Ryan's reference to 
"dear gaff-prone Eddy" 
will ring true with many Croydon residents.  It reminds us all of the previous exchanges on Croydon libraries, again in the letters pages of the local press. You can read Cllr Arrram's letter with comments here, which one of the campaigners responded to here

Perhaps Cllr Arram might like to pause to consider more carefully next time he makes a statement, as Croydon and Lambeth residents are not so easily taken in.

We are also sure that Cllr Sara Bashford will thank him warmly for reminding the Save Croydon Libraries Campaign group that, as was stated in this post back in August 2011, written in response to Cllr Arram's letter, that we promised to share why we believe Croydon residents were denied a say on libraries and residents' concerns were not being taken seriously. 

We never did that fully, did we?  Cheers for the reminder Eddy!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Libraries Lobby -13th March

UNISON, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), Voices for the Library, The Library Campaign, Campaign for the Book and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) have announced they will hold a joint lobby of Parliament calling on politicians to protect vital library services. This was as a result of the Libraries Campaigner event held in London late last year. 

During the lobby, on 13 March, the campaigning group will highlight the importance of libraries in providing access to learning and as a vital lifeline for many communities.

The lobby will take place 
at midday 
on 13 March, 2012
at Central Hall 

Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government, said:

“Cutting libraries is not an easy solution for councils to save cash - it is a literacy time bomb for deprived communities. 

“Community groups are being held to ransom by Government plans to force them to take over the running of services, or lose them. These groups don’t have the time, skills and resources to take over the jobs of experienced library staff.

“A shocking 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below and libraries are a vital lifeline for community groups. We need a national vision of a modern library service, as an investment in the future generation.” 

Ruth Bond, Chair of the national Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), said:

"The NFWI is delighted to support the lobby of parliament. A threat to local library services is a threat to a community’s education and, as champions of libraries for the past 96 years, WI members are gravely concerned that so many local authorities are riding roughshod over educational resources while the Government watches in silence. It is simply not good enough to assume that volunteers will step in to continue providing services previously supplied by professionals; the Government cannot rely on community-minded individuals to step into the breach to bridge the gaps, and the loss of professional expertise is irreplaceable. 

"Local libraries are a fundamental information and education resource. Whilst in their essence, libraries facilitate access to books and resources, they play a much wider role in promoting shared knowledge and equality of opportunity, facilitating community cohesion, and enabling life-long learning and literacy from cradle to grave." 

Abby Barker, from Voices for the Library, said:

“Voices for the Library are urging anyone concerned for the future of the library service in the UK to get involved on March 13th. This is your chance to tell your MP how vital your local library service is, and to ask them to call the Secretary of State to task over his noticeable lack of involvement. The 1964 Museums and Public Libraries Act very clearly puts public libraries under the superintendence of the Secretary of State, however, Jeremy Hunt has yet to intervene on any level, even in the most extreme cases." 

Andrew Coburn, Secretary of The Library Campaign, said: 

“Public libraries still have a wide-ranging role in encouraging literacy and education as well as providing literature for leisure and information. MPs need to know what a real 21st century library service can provide – so that they can join the thousands who are trying to prevent their branches being closed and services mutilated.”

Alan Gibbons, Author and Organiser of Campaign for the Book said:

“A reading child is a successful child. The National Literary Trust has found that a child who goes to a library is twice as likely to read well as one who doesn’t. The UK currently stands at 25th in the PISA International Reading ranking. Libraries are vital to improving this position. We have to fight for the defence and extension of public library services.”

Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of CILIP, said:

"The professional skills and expertise of library staff are core to providing the public with a quality library service. Volunteers should supplement and enrich a professionally led service, not replace the knowledge and skills of staff. We are concerned that public library services in England are being damaged; the impact will be felt now and in the long term. We urge the Secretary of State to use his powers of intervention where there is clear evidence that the Public Libraries & Museums Act (1964) has been potentially breached. It is wrong to view public libraries solely as a cost; by providing opportunities for learning and literacy development libraries are an investment in communities, families and individuals.” 

You can follow the lobby on twitter #librarieslobby and we will be tweeting and updating information on this blog as it becomes available.

Local campaigners were also represented at the planning meeting on Saturday and more information will be made available very shortly, including how to lobby your MP.

We are delighted to have already heard from local library supporters who will be attending the libraries lobby. Please spread the word!