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Sunday, 5 May 2013

#Croydon Libraries - What's the agenda here?

The following has been sent to all on the email list and it will be put on Facebook. Please take a moment to read and make comment, whether you are from Croydon or further afield...

Steven Downes of Inside Croydon is, yet again, making wild accusations on Twitter - that a meeting on libraries has been called for and asks why has this not been done. Who called for this meeting?  Does anyone know?

Only one resident suggested a meeting to me but he genuinely thought we could hold it in a Croydon library. Clearly we can't.  Nobody who responded to the last email though, regarding this, thought there was any need to meet.

The leader of Croydon Labour promised a public meeting but I've heard nothing, despite following this up twice.

I am starting to think that this attack is political, as others have suggested,  as I spoke out with your thoughts regarding Labour's co-op model. No one understood where this came from and no one understood what it really meant and whether it offered a better alternative to JLIS (Laing).  The Campaign group was used by Croydon Labour to lend support to their push for co-op libraries. We are non-party political and had to speak out with what people told us.

Steven also wants an elected committee.  I deal with national library campaigners via The Library Campaign and Speak Up for Libraries. Few, if any, have formal groups or committees. Even groups who have defended libraries right through to Judicial Review have no formal organisation.  We do not take public funds. Does anyone want such a structure?

Thoughts please.....

As always, anyone can write for the blog. If you choose the anonymous or Name/URL option provided it is helpful to sign your post in some way.

Many thanks


Save Croydon Libraries Campaign
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  1. As far as the legitimacy of your campaign group is concerned, it is a nationally known one that has considerable respect. I think it is splitting hairs to argue about its constitution. Whether it is representing 50, 100 or 1,000 people it is something for which many local residents, and national campaigns for high-quality public libraries, are or should be grateful. Those who are not of like mind are free to set up their own groups, rather than criticising existing campaigns from the sidelines.

    About a meeting:
    In my experience, it's not as easy as apple pie to get an effective meeting up together. First, any old venue won't do. A high-profile meeting must be in a high-profile venue. Then adequate publicity, so that the event is not a failure. I had to organise such a meeting in May 2009. No-one was charged to go, of course, so I paid all the not inconsiderable expenses myself - something that's not within the means of everyone.

    An auditorium (with disabled access) was 2/3 filled and a couple of Swindon BC officers attended, as well as an official from the MLA - but those who should have been there "took a view" not to attend - the Ward Councillors! See this report in the local newspaper:

    It seems bizarre that residents are being pressured by Inside Croydon into taking sole and absolute responsibility for such a meeting.

    When councils fail to consult with residents (and fail to arrange public meetings themselves) it would seem reasonable that *they* should be taken to task, not the campaigners.

  2. Elizabeth Ash6 May 2013 at 08:57

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Shirley. I agree there seems to be some misunderstanding of how most campaign groups work.

    The feedback we have had is that the Campaign is very open in its dealings. Anyone can pass comment or information on via phone, email or in person. Anyone can write for the blog or add a comment. There is a facebook page and a Twitter account. Residents have written to the local press throughout and one of the campaigners secured the results of the consultation - listing the thoughts of all who responded. Opinion is canvassed in person and via email. We remain open to engaging with anyone.

    If anyone disagrees they are at liberty to say so, but to do so in such an acrimonious manner is unhelpful. Having spoken with several others involved it was decided that the best way forward was to put the details up here for all to see. We have nothing to hide.

    The consensus of opinion has never wavered. Croydon residents value their libraries and the staff within who provide that service. They notice the impact of the back door cuts to staff and stock. Croydon residents do not want to run our libraries - there were not even enough volunteers to run the greatly streamlined Summer Reading Scheme in Croydon libraries last year!