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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Croydon's ambition for libraries is on the line

In opposition, Croydon Labour promised to rip up the library contract.

Their pre-election campaign was focussed on being 'Ambitious for Croydon'. See the manifesto here, which includes:

But, once in power, Croydon Labour went rather quiet on the matter of ripping up the libraries contract.

Whatever happened to that ambition?

A jumble of languages; not the ordered packed
shelves of a few years ago.

In opposition, they were keen to seek the help and advice of Tim Coates.

In power, they didn't even respond when they were advised that Tim had offered to travel to the UK, at his cost, to advise again on Croydon Libraries.

That's hardly ambitious.

The libraries have continued to flounder - less stock, fewer staff, and appalling promotion of what Croydon libraries have to offer.

It's lucky the lack of staffing doesn't show.

Do you think this is at all ambitious for libraries? 

It's not really clear how ambition features in what many view as a 'fingers firmly plugged in the ears, hands firmly clasped across the eyes' approach to tackling the issue at hand.

Messages featured on desks on entire floors of Central Library.

Rather than rip up the contract with Carillion, or hold Carillion to account for the service they are contracted to offer, Croydon Council has come up with... Ambitious for Libraries

The plan goes to the Cabinet meeting on Monday 21 March 2016, which includes a consultation period from 22 March through to May 2, 2016.

You can find the papers here:
Cabinet Meeting, Agenda item 8:
Ambitious for the Library Service in Croydon - gaining the views of the community

When asked what people thought previously, Croydon residents gave a clear message. 
You can find the details, here.

Croydon residents valued their libraries and the experienced staff that delivered the service so well; a service now ripped to shreds by privatisation. They did not want to run their libraries, nor feel equipped to do so.

Whether or not the current administration is really ambitious to address the steep decline in Croydon library services, only time will tell.

Let's hope for proper consultation this time round.


  1. Friends of Lambeth Libraries19 March 2016 at 21:39

    Greetings from neighbouring Lambeth, where another Labour council is telling lies about its intentions for libraries - and is just 2 weeks away from wrecking four of its much-needed ten.

    1. Greetings, Save Lambeth Library Campaign.

      We are aware and following the plight of Lambeth Libraries, as are the national campaign groups.

      We are also well aware of the ongoing fight to save Upper Norwood Library - properly funded, staffed and stocked.

      We also know that Croydon's cabinet member, Cllr Timothy Godfrey, now refers to Upper Norwood having to accept that it will be a self-serve facility. This is not what the Save UN Library Campaign has fought for.

  2. Replies
    1. We couldn't agree more, John, on the face of it.

      Let's hope that Monday's meeting really demonstrates that fears are unfounded and that Croydon are really ambitious for libraries.

      Only time will tell.