Subscribe to email updates via Mail Chimp

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A resident's comment on Croydon Libraries...

Thanks to Croydon resident,Heather, who has offered the following contribution. It is always nice to hear good news stories about our libraries and this is the first item we've received from a resident content with the level of service, despite the cuts.

"I have been using Croydon Libraries since I was a little girl and have continued to use them throughout studying at school/college and I now use them with my little boy.  I have used many of the libraries over the years - sometimes to avoid reservation charges (!!) and sometimes to get out and about in the borough and attend events. 
I was made aware of the changes coming to Croydon Libraries when I saw the consultation document back in 2010 (?) and gladly filled it in to support them and share my ideas.  I've never been one for campaigning and am still not now, I'd rather just go with the changes and hope for the best.  
I joined twitter to find out more about what's happening in Croydon as I was feeling a bit isolated and after typing "Croydon" into the search bar, I saw "SaveCroydonLibraries" pop up.  I had not been aware that such a group existed!! It looks as though you're doing great work, getting a variety of people to give you their thoughts and sharing important news with followers and with the Council, I'm grateful for the knowledge that I've learnt already from the page. 
I've always found the library staff to be knowledgeable and helpful although I see this has not been the case across the borough which is sad.  I hope that the takeover provides the libraries with some stability and grounds to improve and that SaveCroydonLibraries will continue to fight for a better service.

Thank you,

Anyone is welcome to write about their experiences or to pass information on to the Campaign, in confidence.

What is your experience?

Please let us know!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

#Croydon Defeated Libraries Motion - The facts

The motion put forward by Croydon Labour on libraries was defeated last night.  It is covered in the Croydon Advertiser:
Labour Party motion on Croydon's libraries is defeated,

in the Croydon Guardian here:
Croydon Labour group pledges to tear up libraries contract if they win 2014 local elections

and on Inside Croydon here:
Emergency meeting called on sell-off of Public Libraries
 Questions Pollard must answer over library shambles
 and here:
Council accused of being out of control on libraries

What are the facts?
  • Save Croydon Libraries Campaign represents the views of residents and we seek to hold Croydon to account. We were consulted but no one took account of the views expressed. We know what Croydon residents want as they spoke up in their thousands and we continue to collect views and information. We are non-party political.
  •   We DO NOT support Labour's plans for Co-operative Trusts, as they report. We are yet to find a resident who understands what it means! The campaign has been given no information or consulted by Croydon Labour.
  • JLIS have not pulled out of the contract, as has been reported.
  • Croydon Council must allow the short-listed bidders to resubmit their bids under strict EU procurement rules. There are only GLS and Laing (JLIS) in the running.
  • Croydon Conservatives are trying to downplay the seriousness of the collapse of the procurement process by referring to it as a delay, a pause or a hiccup. This will cause further delay and disruption to our library service, increase stress on staff who have worked under uncertainty for two years now, and will not come cheaply!
  • The Conservatives have lost touch with their duty to serve the residents and for accountability. Cllr Sarah Bashford even claimed in the meeting last night that Cllr Pollard need not have made an announcement about the problem, which he referred to as "a small announcement" in the Budget meeting earlier this month, but could just have issued details in a press release. Cllr Lynne Hale said they were responding 100% as residents wanted!
  • Croydon Labour are pressing for a Co-operative Trust model, without consultation, leaving residents confused and let down. At least the Conservatives went through the motions with their sham consultation!
  • The Save Croydon Libraries Campaign has been used by Labour in their press release and this has been raised directly with them.  The Campaign will work with any political party or organisation in order to resolve the plight of our libraries and would encourage and support a cross party working group to discuss the issues before further grave and costly errors are made.
  • Both parties are now acting without a mandate and this has got to stop!

Croydon residents are passively sitting and waiting to hear the outcome, confused by the misinformation in circulation, whilst our much loved library service decays under cuts by the back door and serious ongoing neglect.

We hope residents will stand up and be counted.  We must stop this as it is not what residents want!

Please let us know your thoughts and, more importantly, what you see as the next key move for Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. 

All information will be treated in confidence.

Croydon' s Extraordinary Meeting on Libraries

Monday, 18 March 2013

Consult? Nah! Croydon Labour know best

Labour plan to impose Co-operative Trusts on the network of Croydon libraries; no consultation or public engagement, presumably no consultation with staff.

 How many residents visit the Croydon Labour site? Not many by the looks of it if the campaigners and residents shock at this announcement is anything to go by. The campaign has even spoken to staunch Labour supporters who had no idea this was the plan.

But, proudly displayed on the Croydon Labour website is the following undated entry.

Libraries safe with Labour 
Over the last 2-years the Conservative-run Council in Croydon has run down our libraries and threatened closure of 6 branches. This on top of closing the Mobile Library Service. 
The Conservatives are currently in a needless dispute about Upper Norwood Library; with the possibility of closure still on the table. 
Today Labour announces that it will pick up the work of the last Labour Council (1994 – 2006) which had a fantastic record of investment in Croydon’s Library service, including new buildings at Broad Green, Selsdon and Ashburton; full refurbishment of Upper Norwood Library (with Government funding) and initiation of Thornton Heath Library refurbishment project. All libraries made fully accessible.  
Since 2006, Tory run Croydon Council has not initiated any new investment in the Library service. Instead, it has closed the mobile library service; reduced staffing and allocated a £250,000 budget to privatise the whole library service. 
Key announcements:1) Labour will not be committed to the Library Service being run by a private company or another local authority2) Labour calls on the Conservative-run Council to cut the wasteful back office spend to make savings in the Library budget. In 2010 / 11 Croydon Council spent 44.78% of the Library budget on back office services: like computers, call centres and building maintenance etc.3) Labour is committed to a professionally run Library Service in each community. 4) Labour is committed to establishing local Co-operative Community Library Trusts that will be a partnership between residents, users and staff in running, managing, enhancing and developing Croydon’s libraries5) Labour is committed to local libraries reflecting local communities; ensuring that each library will develop in its own unique way alongside core library services 6) Labour has written to the bidders and the Council solicitor making the above points 
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Shadow Cabinet Member for Libraries said:
“Residents have shown that they support their local library time and time again. It is time the Council stepped up and actually involved local people in protecting and developing their local library service. Privatisation is simply a lazy approach.”

Councillor Godfrey added 
“Those organisations that are bidding to run our library service now know in clear terms what Labour's plans are. If the Tories press ahead with this privatisation, we will be there in 2014 to pick up the pieces and re-build our library service in a cost effective, efficient way that engages properly with local people”
Upper Norwood Library again.
But do Labour show any real interest in Croydon's 13 libraries?

 Could there be any flaw in the plan? 

  • Croydon Labour claim residents and library campaigners support this plan, yet no one can locate these individuals. Save Croydon Libraries Campaign is recognised, both within and outside Croydon.  Who is this other campaign group no one has heard of and who are these residents remaining so silent, only talking to Labour?
  • And, most importantly, when they state, " Labour is committed to establishing local Co-operative Community Library Trusts that will be a partnership between residents, users and staff in running, managing, enhancing and developing Croydon’s libraries" when did residents ever indicate they wanted to run or manage our libraries?

Pros and Cons of Trusts

In light of Labour's plan to run all Croydon libraries as Co-operative Trusts, without consulting residents, the following information might be useful to residents, library users and the library campaigners.

Public Libraries News sets out the pros and cons of Trusts.

Pros of Trusts

Cons of Trusts

Residents were consulted on the closure of individual libraries and that is what they fought for. At no time was the Co-op Trust model put forward by residents. Croydon Labour have failed to consult on their proposal.

And we are still looking for the residents and campaigners Labour claim are backing this plan, without luck so far.

Does anyone know?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Can you believe #Croydon Labour on libraries?

A press release was issued today and kindly forwarded to the Campaign group as it had not shared directly with us. 

This press release will anger people further.  We are the campaign group in Croydon and no one has heard what we have to say so it is unbelievable that the press release is entitled "Labour Listens to Library Campaigners"

Here is the contents of the press release in its entirely.

Croydon's Labour Leader Cllr Tony Newman and Lambeth Leader Cllr Lib Peck joined forces with Upper Norwood councillor Pat Ryan this week to restate Labour’s commitment to the much loved and treasured Upper Norwood Joint library. Labour Leader Councillor Tony Newman said:  
"Labour councillors have forced an Emergency meeting on Croydon Council for this Monday to defend all of Croydon's libraries; fighting Tory plans to privatise our valued libraries and their staff. The Tories plans to sell our libraries will cost council tax payers in Croydon more money and it will rip the heart out of the libraries vital role in our community. These are not my words but those of library users and campaigners in Croydon.”  
Labour’s spokesperson for Libraries Councillor Timothy Godfrey said: 
"The Upper Norwood Library Trust is a model that the incoming Labour council of 2014 is determined to see rolled out across to other libraries in Croydon. It will give the community a real say in how our libraries are run and what services are provided there." 
Leader of Lambeth Council Councillor Lib Peck said: 
"I was delighted to join Croydon Labour colleagues to reaffirm our commitment to Upper Norwood Library service and supporting Croydon Labour's fight against the Tory cuts to library services and other sectors in Croydon."

Croydon Labour have not forced a meeting.  This is procedure.

Croydon Conservatives do not plan to " sell our libraries".

If Croydon Labour insist on ignoring the views of residents they will have little chance of becoming "the incoming Labour Council of 2014" as no one will trust them. At least the Conservatives kept up the pretence of consulting. It was a totally flawed consultation and ignoring the views of residents but at least they went through the motions.  But Labour, who promised a public meeting that never materialised, are now foisting a plan, built of political dogma, without any engagement with the public.

Where did this come from? Does anyone know?

Is there any party in Croydon likely to actually represent the views and wishes of Croydon residents?

If there are any residents or library campaigners who are in contact with Labour and feeding in these views please do get in touch as we do not know of you and would like to understand where this has come from.

We doubt very much they exist.

Agenda for #Croydon Libraries Meeting 18/3/13

An extraordinary meeting has been called for Monday 18th March at 6.30pm.  The first any resident knew of this was when the details were circulated via facebook and email, late on Thursday.

To save you trying to find the papers buried on the council website the link is:

The only items for consideration are:

MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE COUNCILFollowing the receipt of a requisition signed by 13 Members of the Council, the Mayor has agreed that an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council should be held. 
The requisition states: 
"We hereby call an Emergency Council meeting to discuss the follow Motion:
This Council regrets the incompetence of Councillor Fisher's administration over the failed privatisation of Libraries to John Laing.
It is vital that Croydon Council must be efficient and effective in delivery of front line services.
We agree to match the savings proposed in the John Laing deal by forming a cross party working group to deliver a Co-operative model based on devolved budgets and responsibilities; staff being employed directly through the council; removal of senior management layers; and ending the practice of expensive outsourced contracts for IT and facilities management"
And, you guessed it, the public and the press may be excluded from the meeting.
Camera ResolutionTo resolve that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.
 Irrespective of this emails are circulating furiously, given the short time frame in order to alert residents to this meeting.

Given that this is a really important issue to residents and that local councillors know this, we are left wondering who no one was alerted to this if notice of this meeting was circulated to all councillors over a week ago? That's what the posting clearly shows. See the issue date at the bottom of the entry, reproduced below.

 As a campaign group we would like to know:

Were you alerted to this meeting by any councillor of any party?
We know of only the Upper Norwood Library Campaign being altered by one councillor and in the hope that they would support Labour's plans.

Do you support the co-operative model being put forward by Croydon Labour?
We are yet to hear of any Croydon resident who asked for this or who is in support of this.


It is unlikely any resident or campaigner will get to speak but a very obvious question remains. Why are Labour proposing to match savings offered by Laing when GLL's bid was cheaper and provided a better level of service?

Please add your comment to this post.

We'd love to hear what residents really think.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Shh! Croydon Labour calls meeting over Libraries

The following is being circulated to residents and has been passed to Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  It clearly demonstrates that not only have the Conservative administration bungled the procurement process to outsource libraries, which will have cost Croydon dearly, but that Croydon Labour do not know what they are doing and emulate the Conservatives by acting without a mandate.

When will those elected to serve realise they have a duty to the residents of Croydon to consult and listen?

Residents are being told that,
"Following the statement made by the Cabinet Member Cllr Tim Pollard at the last Council Meeting that John Laing had withdrawn as the likely contenders to take over all the Libraries in Croydon, and that the Croydon Council would be re-tendering....."
My comment: 
BUT Laing have not withdrawn. They tried to change the terms late on in the process around pension entitlements for staff.  Laing are experienced at procurement and many suspect they took advantage of the poor handling by Croydon.  As Croydon and Laing have long-standing business dealings they waited till the last moment to pull this detail, hoping Croydon Conservative administration would accept the terms. 

The collapse of the process means, under EU procurement law, all the short listed bidders have to be invited to resubmit their bid for the contract and can alter any aspect of this that they choose.  

GLL and Laings are the only two understood to be entering into this process. Given the apparent shoddy treatment of GLL it is surprising that they are willing to work with Croydon

In the meantime,

  •  the Croydon library staff have an uncertain future hanging over them as we go back to the drawing board.
  • Croydon Council is undertaking the redecoration of libraries out of this year's budget, leaving staff shunted across the borough while libraries close. 
  • The redecoration should have included an IT upgrade but this is on hold as we go back to the drawing board, meaning more disruption to services and more expense as this will need to be undertaken at another point in the future.

The communication continues to detail that an extraordinary meeting is being called by the Croydon Labour group for Monday 18th March at the Town Hall 6.30pm.  The aim outlined is to have a proper discussion on the plans to privatise all the Libraries in Croydon.

My comment:
BUT no-one has thought to communicate this to the Save Croydon Libraries Campaigners.

Given that this has only been received late on Thursday evening it hardly gives any time to prepare for this meeting or for interested residents to make arrangements to attend.

The wording of the motion is as follows,
"We herby [sic] call an Emergency Council Meeting  to discuss the following Motion: 
This Council regrets the incompetence of Councillor Fisher's administration over the privatisation of Libraries to John Laing. It is vital that Croydon Council must be efficient in delivery of front line services. We agree to match the savings proposed in the John Laing deal by forming a cross party working group to deliver a Co-operative model based on devolved budgets and responsibilities: staff being employed directly through the Council; removal of senior management layers; and ending the practice of expensive outsourced contracts for IT and facilities management" 
My comment: 
Whilst the Upper Norwood Library, jointly-run until recently by Croydon and Lambeth, are now going down the Co-operative model route, this has not been discussed or consulted upon in relation to the 13 Croydon libraries.

Like all library campaign groups, Save Croydon Libraries Campaign has supported Save Upper Norwood Library Campaign in the decisions they have taken for their community.  Campaigners in Lambeth and elsewhere, where Co-operative models are being proposed, are open to the idea but wary of the potential of such a model to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library service.

The big difference is that these communities were consulted. Croydon was not!

No one in the consultation process asked for a Co-operative model and Labour did not choose to consult residents on such a proposal. 

Whilst huge potential savings on back office costs have been identified, including the exorbitant IT contract, heavily loaded on the libraries budget, no one has called for management layers within libraries to be stripped.  Given the cull of staff undertaken it is difficult to see what this would achieve, other than more closed libraries when a single member of staff calls in ill.  We've been there.  Let's not repeat it! 

I have to say that calling a meeting at such short notice, on a model not yet explained, explored or consulted upon, places Labour in a very weak position indeed. But then I hear regularly that Labour are not listening and are not interested in representing parts of the borough, such as the South. 

Croydon residents have fought long and hard to defend their libraries.  They do not want to run them!

The clear message is that we value a professionally run service. This includes not only our qualified librarians but the experienced and knowledgeable library staff - many having worked their way up to management positions through dedication and commitment and others just offering a brilliant service as a long standing member of the team, including our Saturday staff - many of whom have been forced to move on when hours were cut.

Croydon Labour are doing a disservice to the Croydon community by pushing this politically loaded statement through for debate.

Let's see real engagement.  

Let's see those elected to serve really listening to the residents.

Let's see all parties working for a better future for Croydon rather than the petty point scoring to which we are now so accustomed.

Croydon deserves better!

Post submitted by:
Elizabeth Ash, Croydon Libraries Campaigner haste, given no time to consult further because of the lack of notice.

I'd love to hear what other residents think of this proposal.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Labour's Statement on #Croydon Libraries

We reproduce Labour's press release which was posted by a member on our Facebook page, along with further clarification and an audio extract for those not present at the meeting.

Croydon Labour Press Release:


Despite warnings from Labour councillors in previous meeting and widespread public opposition, Cllr Fisher’s Tory administration dream of selling off our much loved libraries lay in tatters last night as Laing’s integrated services spectacularly pulled the plug on Croydon – despite being handed hundreds of millions of pounds of our money as taxpayers from Croydon Conservatives.

Wasting council tax payers money was clearly not a concern as the humiliating u-turn was tucked away at the end of the full council meeting. In a calculated abuse of local democracy, the increasingly controversial Mayor of Croydon refused to allow Labour’s spokesperson for libraries to question the Tory frontbench over the debacle.

The decision to go back to tender to sell off our libraries is one of the biggest issues in Croydon, so one could be forgiven for expecting such an announcement to be given more prominence and urgency. This on the night that Croydon residents are asked to fork out more money than they can afford to pay for the Croydon Tory Council Tax hike.

Labour’s spokesperson for Libraries Councillor Timothy Godfrey said:

“The Tory failure to run this borough properly is now costing tax payers dearly. We need to implement real savings in the library service now and in a responsible way that is not based on the dogma of privatisation. Labour’s plan can be implemented now and can deliver the savings that had been promised by Laings; savings that can be used to benefit local people rather than go into the pockets of Laing’s shareholders.

Labour Leader Councillor Tony Newman said:

“We are calling an emergency meeting of the council to hold to account the Tory front bench and seek a full explanation in light of this latest act of total incompetence and waste of money. Surely 5-years later the full details of the secret deal to build a multi-million pound luxury Tory HQ in so called partnership with Laing’s must be published for all to see.”

For those not at the meeting some points may not be clear from listening to the announcement made, which Cllr Pollard clearly refers to as "a small announcement" You can listen here. 

Bear the following in mind as you listen:

The order of the agenda items were altered, knowing that this announcement would therefore come at the end of the meeting, giving no time for councillors to raise any questions. This appears to be a deliberate ploy to silence any discussion and if you listen the Mayor is quick to state "no questions". This is followed by the most bullish behaviour from the Mayor, Cllr Eddy Arram, likened by some on twitter to someone barking orders at a dog, as he repeatedly shouted at Cllr Godfrey, "Sit down!" and then "Out!".  The audio even picks up someone spitting under their breath, in exasperation, " Get him out of here, now!"

What followed was that Cllr Timothy Godfrey was evicted from the Chambers, his Labour colleagues followed, and the Conservative Councillors are then heard to laugh heartily at agreeing to receive the reports, without challenge, with no one present to object.

There is not only no real democracy in Croydon there is clearly no shame as to how low those who claim to serve us will sink in order to push through their plans and cover up the complete collapse of their procurement process.

You can listen to the full meeting on Croydon Radio.