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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?

1 comment:

  1. "My view is that I find it all very confusing and tiring with all the changes of track and different viewpoints that the different parties come up with.

    I do still want a library in Sanderstead but I couldn't really define for you what the co-operative model is, so I don't know whether it is good or bad or how it compares to the Laing option.

    I feel very sorry for the staff with all the uncertainty looking like it is to be prolonged yet again."

    Comment, received by email from Croydon resident, Sanderstead Library user - name witheld