It has been announced by Lambeth Council that they will take over responsibility for the 112-year-old Upper Norwood Library in a deal with Croydon Council which they claim will safeguard its future. The library had been threatened with closure.
The library had been jointly funded by both councils. Croydon Council's decision to cut its contribution by £100,000 provoked a strong reaction from the local community and the situation has been carefully monitored by Upper Norwood Library Campaign.
Lambeth Council state that under the agreement Croydon Council will transfer to the library building, staff, and agreed budgets to Lambeth. Lambeth in turn will work with the community-led steering group Upper Norwood Joint Campaign whose aim is to create a new trust which will run the library as “a publicly-funded, professionally staffed service”.
The deal has been welcomed by Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Sally Prentice.
Cllr Prentice said,
“I am delighted that Lambeth have been able to save Upper Norwood Library from closure. It’s fantastic news for local residents and guarantees the future of this library which is held in high regard by the community.
While councils up and down the country are closing libraries, in Lambeth we have protected our libraries and are investing over £7 million in new services, working side by side with the community.”The detail of the agreement is being negotiated and the transfer of assets from Croydon to Lambeth is scheduled to take place over the next few months.
Lambeth will contribute £170,000 a year to the running of the library.
Although Croydon has always maintained that Lambeth were in the wrong and that it was Lambeth that broke the joint agreement it is interesting to note that Croydon Council has agreed to provide an annual contribution of £75,000, for the next two years, renewable under a three-year funding agreement.
It is doubtful that Croydon would pay a penny more than they were contractually bound to pay.