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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.

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