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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Wandsworth ditch Croydon to #savelibraries

Wandsworth are selling the latest twist, regarding the joint library procurement process with Croydon, as Wandsworth councillors being due to consider, " innovative plan to enhance and safeguard the borough’s library service by appointing a new management organisation to run it...". 
The news breaks in a press release today, available on the council's website. 
The story goes that Wandsworth councillors have been advised by council officers to award the management contract for the borough's library and heritage service to charitable social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL).
They claim that the recommendation "follows a competitive tender process involving three organisations - from which GLL was deemed to offer the best value for money for local tax payers."
It goes on further to say that, "If councillors agree to follow the recommendation, GLL would run the service from April next year for a period of eight years. It is expected to produce yearly savings in excess of £500,000 compared to current running costs - and, crucially, strengthen the service at a time when the council is facing challenging financial pressures."
The statement goes on to offer the rather disingenuous promise that Wandsworth have set the expectation that GLL "would continue providing core library services free of charge to users", which Wandsworth is bound to do in any case under the 1964 Act.
Yet library campaigners have it on good authority that Wandsworth library staff have already been advised some days ago of the decision to hand the service over to GLL.
And the council's self-professed close working relationship with Croydon Council - regularly lauded by both councils as offering greater flexibility, economies of scale and the like, throughout the procurement process, seems anything but close now.
Wandsworth Councillor Jonathan Cook is quoted,
 "Our libraries are among the best in London and we are proud to be looking at ways to safeguard and enhance the service at a time when other councils are considering closures."
Wandsworth claim to have judged GLL to be the best value for money - hardly an accolade to safeguarding and enhancing, but more to do with counting the pennies and making savings!
Ratification of the recommendation to award GLL the management contract will take place at a meeting of Wandsworth's Environment, Culture and Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee on November 15, 2012.
GLL - better for everyone, but not Croydon,
or so it seems

The press release goes on to state, "Croydon Council will make its own decision which of the three to award its library contract to", making clear that no united decision was reached and indicating a breakdown in the relationship between the two Conservative councils. 

This parting of the ways seems to indicate a clear disagreement between the councils - most likely an indication that Laings have been awarded the contract for Croydon, as many in Croydon have suspected would be the case all along.

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