LIBRARY: “CROYDON LABOUR POLITICIANS MADE PROMISES WHICH FUNDING DEAL DOES NOT LIVE UP TO” SAYS CAMPAIGNER – “Elected representatives have a duty to reflect the wishes of their constituents”
Upper Norwood library campaigner Robbie Gibson says he is “saddened” by Croydon council’s press release reported by News From Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
Mr Gibson, who is head of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign and a former Upper Norwood library trustee, said in a statement it “heralds the onset of a postcode lottery provision of library service for Croydon residents in Crystal Palace and across the borough of Croydon.
“A commitment of only two years will not make fund raising for our library any easier nor do I feel delight is the appropriate sentiment when people realise the extent of staff redundancies.
“As a former trustee I know the trust was set up to look after governance when the library was a political football. “It was never set up to be a fig leaf for cuts and a shift from a statutory provision of library service towards a volunteer staffed community centre model.
“As a community we should mourn that it represents a reduction in service, staffing and funding and an admission from Croydon that it is moving away from statutory provision of library services for Upper Norwood and across its borough.
“I experienced the last round of redundancies which Croydon under the Conservatives imposed on our library. “I was literally there when people tried the door and it was locked when cuts in opening hours were first made.
“I was close to Bradley (Millington) the chief librarian and Jerry (Savage) the archivist who were made redundant then, and the plight of current staff is thus in the forefront in my mind. “Croydon Labour politicians then made promises which this funding deal does not live up to.
“I personally feel let down by council spin that doesn’t mention staff redundancies and does not put the delivery of a comprehensive library service as the main offering of the building.
“What I am saying about this funding agreement does not in any way diminish the efforts of the trustees. I support the trust and spent many long hours working with the trustees and have contributed and will continue to help their fund raising efforts.
“I think I know more than most the frustration and the endless meetings the trustees have gone through to get this settlement from Croydon.
“But I believe elected representatives have a duty to reflect the wishes of their constituents and time and again Crystal Palace has said it wants a properly funded, professionally staffed library offering a statutory provision of library service. “In these times of austerity that maybe difficult to deliver but its certainly worth fighting for.
“Given that the Friends of Lambeth Libraries have always shown such solidarity for Upper Norwood library it would be a calumny if Lambeth chose to paint this Croydon funding deal as an endorsement of its stated policy of decommissioning the library service across five of its libraries including Upper Norwood.
“The Upper Norwood Library Campaign is a supporter of the proposals of Lambeth’s head of libraries Susanna Barnes. “This is about the provision of a library service and dovetails with the Upper Norwood Library Trust’s management of the building.
“But of course if Lambeth also chooses to disregard the views of not just Crystal Palace, but the entire borough and decommission a statutory provision of library service across five of its libraries including Upper Norwood, then the trust offers a much better safety net and provision of library service than a GLL gym, and that is a testament to the tenacity and activism of our community and the efforts of the trust.
“Indeed with lots of hard work and community support the library may well deliver additional benefits under the Trust which are not already being offered by the library.
“The trustees can hold their heads up high but our politicians can’t and they will be held to an account.
“Finally the Upper Norwood Library Campaign would like to place on record its admiration for the library staff and express our gratitude for maintaining such an excellent service in the face of such uncertainty.”
STAFF PLANS WOULD KEEP ALL 10 LIBRARIES – Main points from Susanna Barnes report
January 19, 2016
LAMBETH GIVE LIBRARY EXTRA £25,000 – CROYDON TO FOLLOW SUIT? December 11, 2015
A NEW DAWN FOR CRYSTAL PALACE March 27, 2015
“TIME FOR RESIDENTS OF UPPER NORWOOD TO TAKE LIBRARY TRUST SERIOUSLY” March 27, 2015