The (Very) Good, the Bad and the Ugly
This evening Croydon Council cabinet has reviewed their report on the first stage of the library consultation and agreed 3 options to go forward to the second stage of public consultation. So what does this mean for us?
The council has secured £890,000 of funding from the Community Infrastructure Levy to finish and fit out the new library building in South Norwood. So we will have our library, on Station Road, in the middle of our community.
So what happened to our proposal to run the building if Croydon Council ran the library service within in? It hinged on the council working with us on the proposal, and sad to say they did not. From their report the reason they highlight is that it would not deliver the full £500k per year saving - because it wouldn't reduce staffing. So we are sorry to say our proposal was not successful.
So what is going to happen? Stage 2 of the consultation is going to begin towards the end of May, and the three options which will be put to the community by the council are these:
Reduce staffing at South Norwood library to two days per week – Tuesdays and Fridays – and for the remainder of the time have the library open through Open+ technology. Issues: Open+ without staff in the library mean that users are much more vulnerable to crime and under 16s can't enter without an adult.
Reduce staffing at South Norwood library to two days per week – Tuesdays and Fridays – and have the library run by the community at other times. Issues: our community is one of hard-working families who do not have the time to run the library for the council, and the Friends of South Norwood Library are definitely not willing to engage in this.
Outsource the running of the library to a company - ideally a social enterprise. Issues: any company taking over the libraries would need to deliver the £500k savings to the council and make a profit for themselves, and even social enterprises like GLL have instituted zero hours and unsocial hours contracts on library staff.
So what can the community of South Norwood do to fight for an adequately staffed library service, in our brand new library? As with stage 1 of the consultation, stage 2 is going to be about reframing the discussion. We will be running meetings and publishing more to make sure our voice is as loud as possible. Let's all enjoy a celebratory drink about our new library building, and get ready to fight for our library staff. #SE25needslibrarystaff