PLANS BY CROYDON TORIES to impose a seven-month deadline for a community handover of Upper Norwood joint library have been slammed as “brutal and unrealistic.”
Cllr Timothy Godfrey. Labour spokesman for culture, sport and libraries says Croydon’s deputy leader and cabinet member for libraries Cllr Tim Pollard “has ignored the wishes of the local community and twisted the knife even further.
“He has not learnt anything from this process. “Thousands of people made their views crystal clear. “Cllr Pollard’s response to that is to throw his rattle out of the pram.
“To leave UNJL to struggle on with a serious cut in funding will place jobs of staff at the library in jeopardy” he added..
Upper Norwood ward Cllr Pat Ryan said: “Croydon Conservatives have behaved like school bullies by acting in this scurrilous way. “My heart goes out to the staff at the library who have worked exceptionally hard over the years. “Cllr Pollard is mistaken if he thinks the people of Upper Norwood will take this lying down.
“Croydon Conservatives continual undermining of the Upper Norwood joint library is a disgrace. “The people of Upper and South Norwood will never forgive Croydon council leader Cllr Mike Fisher for this” added Cllr Ryan.
Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood in which constituency the library stands, told News from Crystal Palace in a statement: ” ‘I am shocked at this decision by Croydon to cut the budget so severely.
“This uncompromising approach from Croydon flies in the face of the hard efforts by the local community and Lambeth council to secure the future of the library.”
And Croydon’s Labour leader Cllr Tony Newman said: “This decision shows that Tories can never be trusted with our libraries again”.
The councillors comments come in one of two separate Internet statements issued by Croydon’s Labour group, the second of which refers to the “needless dispute about Upper Norwood Library; with the possibility of closure still on the table.”
In the second statement Croydon council’s Labour opposition make what they call six key announcements:
- Labour will not be committed to the library service being run by a private company or another local authority
- 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 per cent of the library budget on back office services: like computers, call centres and building maintenance etc.
- Labour is committed to a professionally run library service in each community.
- 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
- Labour is committed to local libraries reflecting local communities; ensuring that each library will develop in its own unique way alongside core library services
- Labour has written to the bidders (the three wanting to run library services in the borough of Croydon which includes a bid from Wandsworth council) and the council solicitor making the above points
- “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” the statement adds.
In the leaflet Cllr Godfrey says: “Privatisation is simply a lazy approach. “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”