Croydon's Conservatives have recently obtained a copy of a report with secret plans to close four of Croydon's libraries. Croydon's Labour administration had tried to bury the report deep in meeting papers for the Cabinet Meeting on 7th May 2019 when their libraries strategy was nodded through. Cllr Helen Pollard, Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture, asked for the report and was shocked to find that one of the recommendations is the closure of four libraries; Bradmore Green (in Old Coulsdon), Purley, Sanderstead and Shirley.
In a report by consultants Red Quadrant, hidden from public and councillor scrutiny for 9 months, the consultants’ Asset Review singles out these four libraries as sites prime for ‘relocation’ and ‘releasing space’. Cutting the spin, the report suggests selling them off and directing users to other libraries, or at the least removing and redeveloping large portions of the library for other uses.
This could well mean more unpopular Brick-by-Brick developments going up in library-shaped holes in the hearts of local communities. It is notable that the report, commissioned by Croydon’s Labour-run Council, is far less threatening to libraries in wards represented by Labour Councillors.
Cllr Helen Pollard, Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture, said, “I am disturbed by many of the recommendations in the report, in particular the options to close libraries, or make libraries entirely volunteer-run… The culture of secrecy within the current Labour administration meant that this information was hidden away in a report that nobody got a copy of, and I only got a few minutes before the cabinet meeting started.”
Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South commented: “This is a typical example of Croydon’s Labour council hitting front line services instead of cutting waste. Croydon Council’s total budget accounting from all income sources (known as Core Spending Power) is actually going up – by £8.2m or an above-inflation 3% this year. The Labour council should spend this extra money on protecting frontline services like Libraries, not waste on by letting capital projects go hugely over-budget and by a huge over-reliance on expensive agency staff at the Town Hall”
Mario Creatura, Prospective Conservative MP for Croydon Central, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace that our Labour-run Council not only commissioned this report in secret but they’ve also attempted to bury it away from public scrutiny. The Council has continually made great boasts about being ‘open and transparent’ in reality they are the most ‘closed and secretive’ council I’ve experienced.
“Residents in Shirley deserve a Council and an MP who will stand up for what’s right, who will protect public services and be honest with them when difficult decisions need to be taken. The way our Labour-run Council is currently acting is not worthy of Croydon.”
Croydon Conservatives believe our libraries lie at the heart of our community and are an essential resource for residents of all ages and incomes, in every part of Croydon. But we need your help to stop these plans and protect our precious local libraries.
Sign our petition and join the campaign to get our Labour-run Council to keep all our library open through the link here.
Share the petition with your friends and family. The more people who sign it, the more our Labour MPs and Labour Council will have to listen.
You can read the Red Quadrant report in full here.