This years Council budget is very grim reading, over 6 years of financial mismanagement has resulted in merging, cutting, and reducing council services across the board, including vitally important frontline services such as the protection and investment in our library provision across the borough. The Council is looking to save an estimated £400,000 with the closure of 5 libraries in Croydon with Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Sanderstead, Shirley and South Norwood falling victim to this Labour Councils brutal and unsympathetic cuts. Purley Pool has also fallen victim to the savage reductions and is not expected to reopen under this Labour administration.
In addition, the Labour led Council wants to merge Museum and Library resources only saving an estimated £80,000 to the Croydon Taxpayer, which I am sure you can agree is a low saving benefit, which will ultimately mean our culture and library services suffer significantly. This is particularly bad timing only a few years before Croydon is due to be the London Borough of Culture in 2023!
Within the Capital Program report in the Budget for Croydon, it states that the Council will set aside £2.1M from the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) monies expected to be received by the Council for Libraries, Leisure and Open Spaces. All of these areas have been cut to the bone by this Labour Council, I have asked for further clarification from the Council and asked for a breakdown of where the Council will prioritise the money, CIL monies are expected to go where there is the most need.
Every council in England is required to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service under the 2011 Localism Act. Libraries are a statutory requirement by local authorities and therefore Croydon Council must undertake a robust, objective and evidence-based analysis of local need of the libraries they wish to close. This means the public must be consulted about any proposal that relates to libraries, including these proposed closures.
To many across the borough it is more than just a library, it is their vital community hub, a place they can seek assistance from the fantastic, qualified librarians, a place to use the Internet for studies, a place for peace and quiet to study, or a place to not feel alone and isolated. Our library buildings are more than bricks and mortar, they are a vital resource for some of the most deprived across the borough. Libraries are seen as a vital resource within the community, if you are expected to get a bus to visit your library, I think it is fair to assume, that many would not class it as a community asset anymore, and therefore any closure no matter how close the next nearest library is, will create a community deficit which is simply unacceptable.
As a community we need come together and think outside the box for any possible solutions and methods to help save our libraries. The harsh reality is that Croydon Council’s finances are far from certain, this has meant the Council is seeking to save costs across the board, nothing is safe, including front line services like our fantastic libraries!
Croydon’s Libraries public consultation closes on the 14th March 2021 and to play your part in democracy it is important that as many members of the public engage in this consultation:
The pandemic has limited the consultation to predominantly take part on Online only, however a dedicated phone number has been setup by the Council, for those who do not have internet access, or are not tech savvy. Please share this number far and wide, to anyone you think would want to take part in the Croydon Library consultation but are unable or would struggle to complete the online consultation: 0207 884 5159