REVEALED : CROYDON’S SECRET MOVES TO QUIT LIBRARY AGREEMENT
Freedom of Information Act request unveils exchange of letters between Lambeth and Croydon
CROYDON COUNCIL’S secret moves to quit the Upper Norwood joint library agreement they had with Lambeth council can now be revealed for the first time following a Freedom of Information Act request.
Letters between Croydon’s then chief executive Jon Rouse and Lambeth’s chief executive Derrick Anderson reveal the then-Tory controlled Croydon council’s actions in trying to terminate the library agreement.
With one exception* they appear never to have been published before.
Discussing various possibilities as to the future of the library Rouse states that one option “would be for a sale of Croydon’s interest in the premises” but adds that “Croydon would be content for Lambeth to continue to operate the fixed assets as a library.”
In his opening letter Jon Rouse lays all the blame for the ending of the joint agreement at Lambeth council’s door, arguing that councillors appointed by Lambeth wilfully refused even to attend the annual meeting of the joint committee held on 15th September 2011.
“As a result of these actions of Lambeth, acting through its councillors, it has not been possible for there to be proper governance and oversight of the UNJL in accordance with the agreed constitutional arrangements” adding: “This is an intolerable position to be in.”
In response, Derrick Anderson highlights the “wholly inappropriate and unilateral decision of Croydon council to terminate, purportedly, the joint library agreement.
And Mr Anderson adds “It is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that the administration of Croydon council made a policy decision some time ago to extract itself from an arrangement which has been in place for over 100 years and to apportion the blame for this on Lambeth council.
“It is incumbent upon your authority to identify which term or terms of the agreement that you allege have been fundamentally breached by Lambeth council and on which you purport to rely in order to assert your right to terminate the agreement.
“You have failed to do so.”
The letter also highlights how, following the local elections in May 2010 the Conservatives re-took contol of Croydon.
Mr Anderson adds: “Without providing any formal notification to Lambeth council of its intentions, your authority unilaterally decided that it no longer wished to … nominate any representatives from the Upper Norwood area.
“Lambeth council could reasonably have concluded from this action alone that your authority had committed a fundamental breach of a term of the agreement.”
In another letter Mr Anderson says: “It is denied that the non-attendance of Lambeth’s councillors at the meeting called for 15 September constitutes a fundamental breach, nor that such action constituites valid grounds for termination of the agreement.
“The sole reason for this non-attendance was the wilful failure of your authority to comply with the terms of the agreement, as amended and agreed by both authorities in 2006 with regard to membership of the Upper Norwood library joint committee (UNLJC), no explanation for which was forthcoming.
“In addition to this breach of the agreement on your authority’s part, a further fundamenntal breach was committed in respect of your failure to call a meeting of the UNLJC for over a year after that held on 30 June 2010.”
The letters also reveal it was Lambeth who suggested a community takeover of the library which Croydon, in reply, wanted done in five months.
*Rouse tells Lambeth to plan closure of library in secret posted on January 16, 2012 by insidecroydon
COPYRIGHT JERRY GREEN 2014 (NB: Croydon Advertiser / Croydon Guardian / South London Press / News Shopper – you are welcome to use this but an acknowledgment to newsfromcrystalpalace.co.uk would be appreciated)
NEWS FROM CRYSTAL PALACE COMMENT: “WHAT THE B***** HELL IS A FLOATING DUCK ISLAND?” *
WITHOUT moles or whistleblowers Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wouldn’t have been able to write ‘All the President’s Men” and Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner, two of the Daily Telegraph team which reported on the Parliamentary expenses scandal wouldn’t have been able to write the excellent, jaw-dropping “No Expenses Spared”.
A few months ago we learned that, back in January 2012 the news website Inside Croydon had published one of the letters after it had been leaked to them.
Obviously it’s a matter of personal choice which media organisation a mole or whistleblowers give such items to.
But we wonder how different things would have turned out for Upper Norwood joint library – and libraries in the borough of Croydon – if the letter had ALSO been leaked to the Croydon Advertiser, Croydon Guardian or South London Press?.
If it had been, MP’s Malcolm Wicks or Tessa Jowell could have been in a position to raise such antics in the House of Commons if they had wished to. And the course of local history might just have been changed….
(* “What the b***** hell is a floating duck island?” – Daily Telegraph reporter Nick Allen shouts across the newsroom to colleagues – P 279, No Expenses Spared.)