CROYDON COUNCIL’S Labour opposition leader has pledged they will match Lambeth council’s funding for Upperr Norwood joint library – if they regain control of Croydon town hall next year.
The pledge came in a Labour group statement in which Cllr Tony Newman personally thanked “the community of Crystal Palace and Norwood and the local Labour councillors who have put their heart and soul into saving the library.”
Labour’s spokesperson for libraries Cllr Timothy Godfrey said: “Upper Norwood library is a precious model that we want to see replicated elsewhere in Croydon. “It is a model with a proven track record of efficiency and delivery; not bogged down with ridiculous back office costs of 46 per cent. “This is the model that a Labour council will use in 2014.”
Cllr Pat Ryan (Lab, Upper Norwood) said: “This news is most welcomed, and I am grateful to those involved in the Upper Norwood library campaign for making this happen. “I am also very grateful to colleagues in Lambeth who have worked very hard behind the scenes’ to make this happen.
“I am, however, personally disappointed to see Croydon Tories slash the UNJL budget, as it will mean a loss of at least two members of staff.
“It is very likely under Croydon Tories proposed funding arrangements, which will mean £114,000 less than Lambeth’s contribution, that the library will be forced to close for at two days or more during the week” he claimed.
The Labour group statement added: “The Conservatives in Croydon have had their eye on closing Upper Norwood joint library for many years. “However, Tory plans to close UNJL have been fiercely resisted by the community of Norwood and Crystal Palace. “UNJL is the only library of its type in the country; independent and run very efficiently, actually saving local tax payers money.
“After a long period of Croydon council leader Cllr Mike Fisher holding a gun to the head of the library and the community, thanks to the community of Norwood, Crystal Palace and the tireless efforts of Labour councillors; a deal has been reached to turn UNJL into a community trust.
“The battle to save UNJL has been on for many years. “It has been very badly handled by Cllr Fisher, who at times has looked pretty desperate and anxious to get rid of the library from Croydon’s books.”
*LABOUR say they will not be seeking a judicial review of the decision to hand Croydon’s libraries over to John Laing. A website report stated that: “The opposition Labour group on Croydon Council is considering seeking a judicial review of the decision to hand a £30-million, eight-year library contract to John Laing Integrated Services.”
Opposition libraries spokesman Cllr Timothy Godfrey told NFCP: “We would support anybody willing to do so, with info and assistance. “We don’t have the resources to do it ourselves, and despite some positive noises from community people, nothing has materialised.”