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Monday, 30 January 2012

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!

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