Since Labour came to power in 2014, their very poor mismanagement of the boroughs finances together with some very risky investments has created the very sad financial mess we find ourselves in Croydon today.
Labour’s 2018 “Ambitious for Croydon” manifesto promised to invest in Croydon’s Libraries, and in last year’s 2019 budget, Cllr Oliver Lewis who is the Cabinet Member responsible for our libraries stated, “we need to add more books to the shelves in Croydon Libraries”, promising to invest £300,000 in renewing our libraries book stock.
Croydon has some of the oldest and most out of date book stock in the country, this has a detrimental impact on the most deprived residents in our borough who rely most heavily on library services - particularly younger people who need the facilities for their education.
Sadly, it has now been revealed that Labour has decided to u-turn on their financial promises and further cut spending on the New Library Books Fund.
When I questioned Cllr Oliver Lewis why Labour felt it was necessary to cut the already very small budget he replied:
“I think it is important that all areas of the Council contribute towards some very challenging financial savings that we need to find”
This Labour administrations reckless spending has meant Croydon Council does not have the ability to spend money in areas which urgently need it. As a result, they have let down many of the most deprived people in Croydon.
Conservative-led Wandsworth Council is an example of how Council finances and services could be run. Wandsworth residents pay the UK’s lowest average council tax bill, but all their libraries have reopened since lockdown in March, whilst only five of 13 have re-opened in Croydon.
Croydon Labour will blame everyone and everything but themselves. The Labour Leader, Cllr Tony Newman, even had the audacity to congratulate himself and his Labour Cabinet for a job well done - it's the only Council in London on the verge of bankruptcy, they've accrued £15,000 of debt every hour since they took over in 2014, and it's one of the worst performing Council's in the country. Why is he congratulating himself for demonstrable failure?
The fact of the matter is this Labour administration claims to represent the most deprived in our borough, but they have failed to urgently invest in key areas when it is needed most.
Croydon deserves better.