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Friday, 6 January 2012

Irresponsible Lambeth, apparently

This week sees the Croydon Guardian running a letter from Croydon Conservative Cllr Eddy Arram, reacting to the words of Croydon Labour Cllr Maggie Mansell and accusing Lambeth of acting in,
"such an irresponsible and damaging way"
over Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL).

Cllr Mansell's thoughts were recorded in the eXtra section of the Croydon Guardian, which is no longer available, but if we can secure a copy we will be happy to update this post.

This week's letter can be found on page 14 here.  We reproduce the letter below.

Cllr Arram's letter in this week's Croydon Guardian
Cllr Arram states that,
"Because Lambeth Councillors failed to meet its responsibilities and duties by taking up their places on the UNJLA (Upper Norwood Joint Library Authority) committee, thus making it unable to operate, it does not mean Croydon Council will act in such an irresponsible way."
We hope the reader gets the gist of what Cllr Arram is attempting to say but we seriously question the validity of his point, as we will go on to explain.

At the public meeting held in November 2011 many of the Croydon Labour and Lambeth Labour councillors were present, including Cllr Florence Nosegbe, who had another engagement but knew the importance of attending.  The hall was packed out, with standing room only.

And where was Cllr Sara Bashford, Cllr Nosegbe's counterpart from Croydon? Nowhere to be seen, nor was any other Croydon Conservative councillor. It became clear that this was not the first time. Cllr Nosegbe explained how, having set a meeting date with Croydon to try to resolve the stalemate over UNJL, the meeting was cancelled at very short notice and therefore no meeting had yet taken place.

It was agreed  that further attempts should be made to try to get Croydon to co-operate, some might even say to act in a responsible manner, and agree to a meeting together to sit around the table and plan the way forward.

The background to the current UNJL saga can be found here, including the three options Croydon have put to Lambeth.
  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.

So when Cllr Arram speaks of acting in "such an irresponsible and damaging way" perhaps he should take a look at his own Council's track record and actions. Croydon's refusal to meet and the only options given to Lambeth which absolve Croydon of any responsibility for this library, used by its residents, seems far from responsible or constructive.

1 comment:

  1. In response to Cllr Eddy Arram’s (Croydon Conservative Member for Ashburton Ward) letter which was published in the Croydon Guardian w/c 3rd January 2012.
    In his letter Cllr Arram stated that [Croydon Council] “will not act as irresponsibly as Lambeth
    Council” and that [Croydon Council] “cannot and will not let this issue just drift”.
    One might think these hopeful words of support for the Upper Norwood Joint Library. Sadly not, they are set against the backdrop of more words of blame on Lambeth Council and Labour councillors. I’m afraid that the future of our community library seems to be in the hands of those who appear to be more motivated by apportioning blame rather than finding a secure future for it. The future of a community library should not be dictated by party or council political point scoring.
    When Cllr Arram states that Croydon Council will not let the issue just drift, what he and his colleagues actually mean is that they think it justifiable and responsible to simply offer Lambeth Council a series of options all of which would inevitably mean closure of the library.
    It says so much that a councillor from Ashburton (nowhere near Upper Norwood) feels vindicated in speaking out on this sensitive subject; it is precisely this lack of local councillor representation from Croydon Council that has precipitated the dire situation. Cllr Arram clearly has little appreciation of the Upper Norwood Joint Library when describing it as “very small” – it may not be huge but the issue isn’t about size, it is about relative value to the community and it is a well-known fact that it is 50% more cost efficient than any other library in the funding boroughs.
    Furthermore, Cllr Arram’s statement that “for two years there has been no accountability of the running of that library to either the people of Croydon or Lambeth” is inaccurate. The library service is wholly accountable and the management runs a tight financial ship on a modest budget. What Cllr Arram should have stated is that there has not been an AGM for 2 years because Croydon Council refused to allow local ward councillors to sit on the management board – rather they drafted in Cllrs from the southern-most reaches of Croydon who, with all the best will in the world, don’t know the area as the local councillors do and probably care a whole lot less!
    I and the community which the library serves, invite Cllr Arram to explain just how Croydon Council will act responsibly and will not let the issue drift. The community served Croydon Council with a resolution to negotiate with Lambeth Council to find a secure future for the library. Following this, Lambeth Council put forward some options to Croydon Council which provide a starting point for negotiation. As far as the community knows, Croydon Council has not yet taken up the opportunity to negotiate. With funding only secure until the end of March 2012, this is a grave and desperate situation.
    I strongly urge all who care to respond to Cllr Arram’s letter (please feel free to cut and paste this letter) by writing to him and to the Assistant Editor, Matt Knowles at