A DECISION by Croydon council’s Conservatives to give Upper Norwood joint library just £75,000 next year is “flawed and unsustainable” say library campaigners.
The massive reduction in funding of £112,000 is “hugely greater” than that being imposed on other libraries in either Croydon or Lambeth and “appears likely to lead to a halving in the number of library staff, with serious implications for the level and quality of the library service” say Upper Norwood Library Campaign..
They say Croydon’s decision is:
1. FLAWED because it compares Upper Norwood joint library with Croydon branch libraries without taking any account of the value of central services provided to Croydon branch libraries which would have to be met separately by an independent Upper Norwood library.
(Croydon council have a call centre which deals with enquiries for all their branch libraries. Library campaigners and supporters have struggled unsuccessfully for years to ensure that any comparison being made between UNJL and branch libraries in Croydon takes into account these – and other – hidden centralised costs )
2. UNSUSTAINABLE because the paper presented to Croydon council’s cabinet committee arrives at a Croydon contribution on the basis of the formula ‘cap (£245,000) minus contribution recently decided by Lambeth Council (£170,000)’.
“To make Croydon’s contribution wholly dependent on another council’s decision is to invite future ‘see-sawing’ and instability, and does not provide a sustainable funding formula for the Library going forward.”
The Campaign’s statement comes before Friday night’s meeting of Croydon council’s scrutiny and overview committee which will look at the cabinet decision on funding after it was ‘called in’ by Labour councillors. (See story dated September 27th )
Croydon’s cut from about £187,000 in the current year to £75,000 in the year beginning in April 2013 compares with a Lambeth council cut of £41,000.
In their strongly-worded statement UNLC says It should be clear to the scrutiny committee the £75,000 proposal jeopardises the very existence and sustainability of any future library trust, is not only discriminatory and iniquitous but will also ensure the library’s governance remains a political minefield.
“Surely all parties must realise that it is in no one’s interest for the library to be a perpetual political football.
“It is not unreasonable for Croydon’s Upper Norwood residents who make up the largest element of the library’s membership, to expect an equal share of the library funding budget as their compatriots elsewhere in Croydon – or indeed for Croydon community tax payers in Upper Norwood to feel disgruntled at the unfairness that their Lambeth neighbours not only pay less in community tax than them but also receive significantly more library funding in return.”
Welcoming Croydon’s recognition that Croydon residents want their library provision to be provided by the Upper Norwood Joint Library and that the council accept the recent consultation findings that residents would not use alternative Croydon provision elsewhere in the borough, the UNLC (Upper Norwood Library Campaign) says it “also looks forward to working closely with Croydon to explore a publicly funded community trust which could provide an exciting new era for our much loved library.”
The UNLC says a logical and sustainable service-based funding formula should be developed for an independent Upper Norwood library.
“This is likely to include establishing a notional catchment area for the library and deriving a library services cost per head or household that is fair and reasonable in relation to other parts of Croydon. “We are ready to work with Croydon to develop such a fair and sustainable funding formula.”
Friday night’s scrutiny committee meeting will be chaired by Cllr Steve Hollands – a former library joint committee chairman and a fact not lost upon Crystal Palace Community Association chairman John Payne.
Mr Payne told Monday night’s meeting of UNIT (Upper Norwood Improvement Team) that it was Mr Hollands who had chaired the UNL joint committee meeting. where he ‘signed off’ the minutes of the committee’s previous meeting which recorded the decision to allow local councillors to sit on the library committee.
“The very thing that is now creating all the problems” he told UNIT’s meeting at the Phoenix Centre, Westow Street.
UNLC chairman Mark Richardson told the UNIT meeting: “For some reason we’ve got Croydon rattled. “It’s about the fastest – ever scutiny committee meeting they have arranged.”
The council’s constitution states that at Friday’s meeting, the referral (call in) will be considered by the committee which shall determine how much time it will give to the call-in and how the item will be dealt with including whether or not it wishes to review the decision.
If having considered the decision there are still concerns about the decision then the committee may refer it back to the cabinet for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of the concerns. The cabinet shall then reconsider the decision, amending the decision or not, before making a final decision.
The scrutiny and strategic overview committee may refer the decision to the council if it considers that the decision taken by the leader or cabinet is outside the budget and policy framework of the council.
The council may decide to take no further action in which case the decision may be implemented. If the council objects to cabinet’s decision it can nullify the decision if it is outside the policy framework and/or inconsistent with the budget.If the scrutiny and strategic overview committee decides that no further action is necessary then the decision may be implemented.
If the council determines that the decision was within the policy framework and consistent with the budget, it will refer any decision to which it objects, together with its views on the decision, to the cabinet. The cabinet shall choose whether to either, amend, withdraw or implement the original decision within 10 working days, or at the next meeting of the cabinet after the referral from the council.