CROYDON’S TORY councillors are set to give Upper Norwood joint library just £75,000 next year – and their leader more than £54,000.
Croydon say that the library can be run more efficiently for just £245,000 per annum – and because Lambeth has already pledged £170,000 a report to next Monday’s council cabinet (17th) meeting effectively says £75,000 is all Croydon need to pay.
The grant for both the next financial year which, like all councils, starts on April 1st, and the 2014 – 15 financial year should be subject to a new ‘not for profit’ organisation being put in place, says the report.
The NPO (not-for-profit) organisation would be funded through a grant, service agreement or contract by both Croydon and Lambeth and run in accordance with the available resources, starting with the funding allocated by Croydon and Lambeth plus income generated by the library, says the report
[The NPO would also have the potential to raise funds from other sources; This would be made easier if the organisation were to be a registered charity, says the report.]
“It is therefore proposed that Croydon work towards the management of the service, including the employment of staff, being transferred to a not-for-profit organisation from 1 April 2013. “This model would not require a joint agreement as before but would need the two boroughs to work together to this end, the report adds.
“Decisions also need to be made about lease arrangements for the building from 1 April 2013, hence a recommendation for officers to undertake work with Lambeth, which jointly owns the building, in order to put in place appropriate arrangements.”
The report identifies the following risks in terms of the recommendations in the report:
1) Croydon and Lambeth are unable to agree (insofar as this is legally necessary) the practical arrangements for a management transfer
2) no NPO is identified that has the capacity to take on management responsibility for the service and staff at the level of funding and terms & conditions that will be offered.
3) it takes well beyond 1 April 2013 before management transfer to a NPO is achievable.
“The level of risk could be significantly reduced by seeking to work in close partnership with Lambeth officers and by offering support to the establishment (if needed) and development of the identified NPO” the report says.
STAFFING AND REDUNDANCIES
“If staff are made redundant as a result of a NPO taking over, then financial support may be requested from Croydon and Lambeth to help fund any redundancy costs.
“If the library is not transferred for any reason and a decision is made to ultimately close it, then Croydon will have to take on the full responsibilities for the staff and begin consultation on redundancy and redeployment.
“The cost of redundancies for the full staff group would be in the region of £100k+ and in this circumstance, it is unlikely that support to share the cost would be given by Lambeth” the report admits.
IT’S A LEGAL MATTER, BABY…
Account must also be taken of the possibility of legal challenges, the report warns.
“Were these to emerge these would likely last for many months and result in the council incurring considerable further expenditure, even if the council were eventually to win the case.
” In the meantime, it would not be possible to progress significantly beyond the current position and the continuing staffing liabilities would predominantly lie with Croydon.
Under Croydon’s constitution the decision may be implemented from 1pm on the fifth working day after it is made – unless the decision is referred to the scrutiny and overview committee by the “requisite number of councillors”.
The whole report can be found at: