LABOUR hope to fulfil one of their election pledges – match funding for Upper Norwood joint library – by September.
“We need much greater openness and transparency of information and data in public services” said Mr Reed.
“People cannot participate in decision making if they do not have full access to information.
“I was bitterly disappointed to see Croydon council, which covers the constituency I am proud to represent, failing to understand this.
“It took a decision to sell off the borough’s public libraries to a private developer in secret, behind closed doors.
“Doing it in that way fuelled public concern that the deal was not in the best interests of residents.
“That feeling appeared to be justified when the buyers, Laing, quickly sold the libraries on to another developer, Carillion — at a considerable profit, one would assume, but unfortunately we are not allowed to know.
“These are public resources and public services, and decisions about them should be transparent and open; the public should be able to participate.
“At the council I led, (Lambeth) I introduced a very simple open data charter which stated that the authority would publish everything that it was not legally prevented from publishing.
“Once we did that, the public started asking for data in different formats so that they could use them to scrutinise services more thoroughly and propose better ways to run services, and alternative providers to run better services.
“That approach helped to create community-run parks, a community-run youth services trust, more tenant-led housing estates, and even a new council website designed by the residents who were using it.
“But citizens need support to take advantage of these opportunities, or the potential for change that they offer will never be realised.”
“We need the new clause and the new schedule if we want these powers really to work for everyone and not just for a privileged few.”
Steve Reed’s comments came during a debate on the new Consumer Rights Bill in the House of Commons on 13th May 2014 while speaking in favour of new clause 1 and new schedule 1, which call for independent advocacy and citizen involvement in decision making in public services. (Source: Hansard)
- SAVE CROYDON’S LIBRARIES say recent comments have been received about the decline of Croydon central library and the lack of choice in branch libraries.
“It will be interesting to see what happens now with the libraries, given Labour’s promises on Croydon libraries and Steve Reed MP’s promises re Upper Norwood library” said a campaign spokeswoman.
In 2012 in a ‘2014 Vision’ Labour announced it would pick up the work of the last Labour Council (1994 – 2006) and “would not be committed to the library service being run by a private company or another local authority.”
Steve Reed – MP for Croydon North – met with Croydon’s chief executive prior to the recent council election “and confirmed with him that a Labour win means restoring funding to Upper Norwood library, and that the chief executive was fully aware that was the expectation”.
The campaign has been contacted by a PhD student who is particularly interested in speaking with staff and users of Croydon Central library.
The student says: “My next case study is Croydon, to examine the effects of privatisation on the service, and I want to use Croydon Central library as my main field site – comparing where the service is now to how the library has developed historically.”
The campaign say they have explained that it is unlikely that staff will speak with her but she hopes to speak with people who used to work in Croydon libraries.
They ask: “Would you be willing to speak with her or know of someone else who would? “Anonymity will be maintained and it will not be possible to identify participants from the resulting dissertation.
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