‘TOWN CENTRE LIBRARY FOR OUR TOWN CENTRE’ DEMAND – AND CALL TO RESTORE LIBRARY TO CROYDON’S CONSTITUTION
Upper Norwood library should receive AT LEAST the same funding per head as equivalent town centre libraries in Croydon and Lambeth.
That is the message in a joint statement from Croydon North Labour Parliamentary candidate Steve Reed (who is defending his seat in next month’s election) – and the Upper Norwood Library Campaign.
The joint statement also asks Croydon council to restore, in the council’s constitution, the historic references to the Upper Norwood Library that were removed by the previous Conservative administration when they broke the joint funding agreement for the library.
“The joint funding of the Upper Norwood Library by both Lambeth and Croydon for more than 100 years is a model of cross-borough co-operation that benefits the entire community of Crystal Palace” the statement adds.
“Residents in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood have consistently made clear their support for a properly funded, professionally staffed library in public consultations held by both councils.
“We want to see the Upper Norwood Joint Library receive at least the same funding per head of population as equivalent town centre libraries in Croydon and Lambeth, and Croydon to meet their commitment to fully match all funding from Lambeth including the endowment fund.
“Lambeth and Croydon should both continue to recognise the unique status of this library and its role in providing statutory library services for the community it serves across several borough boundaries.
“We support the community trust that has been formed to take control of the library and help raise much-needed additional funds to support and enhance its professionally staffed library service.
“We look forward to working with both councils, the Trust and the community to find a way forward that is fair to the entire community of Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace and which guarantees the long-term stable future which the library so desperately needs and the community wants to see.”
The statement was issued following a visit by Steve Reed to meet supporters outside the library on Westow Hill.
Robert Gibson, on behalf of the library campaign, also addressed library supporters. He said: “The library is the legacy and the property of the entire community of Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood.
“It was built by pioneering visionaries of Croydon and Lambeth who took the long term view, and realised that cross-borough co-operation and joint funding solves many of the problems of the entire area of Crystal Palace that all of our five boroughs often don’t address.
“Consultation after consultation, public meeting after public meeting the community has spoken loudly and strongly in favour of a properly funded, professionally staffed library that serves all the people of this area.
“Croydon funding has dropped from a previous £170k to this year to £120k to £50k in years two and three. “Lambeth’s funding is now the same but it also offering us funding from a specially created endowment.
“The community has campaigned for a town centre library. “Not a community centre with books in it. “We’ve already had funding cuts, staff cuts and opening hours cuts.
“Why should Upper Norwood receive much less funding than other Croydon libraries given that it serves more than 19,000 Croydon residents?
“Crystal Palace has taken some knocks, but as the people gathered today demonstrate our community solidarity means Crystal Palace can roll with the punches.
“But boy we can also fight for what we believe is right. “Are we going to fight for proper funding for our library? “Hell yeah!.”
(Editor’s note: The endowment fund would come from the sale of the Waterloo and Minet libraries and be used to finance Upper Norwood library, the Carnegie library at Herne Hill and the Durning library in Kennington Lane)