Specimen letter to Croydon’s Cllr Fisher

The Upper Norwood Library Campaign (with the support of the community) has served Croydon Council with a resolution to negotiate with Lambeth Council to secure the future of our library before the end of 2011. In view of the current crisis situation at Upper Norwood Joint Library, please do write to Cllr Mike Fisher, Leader of Croydon Council, to express your concerns.

Cllr Mike Fisher
Leader Croydon Council
Town Hall
Katharine Street
Croydon CR0 1NX
020 8760 5770
mike.fisher@croydon.gov.uk

This specimen letter below may assist you in composing your own. In addition to addressing the letter to Cllr Fisher, you may like to send copies to the names at the bottom of this page as well as to your local councillors.

Dear Cllr Fisher,

I write to you to record my grave concerns regarding Croydon Council’s withdrawal of funding for the Upper Norwood Joint Library as announced in October 2011 and to request that the Council takes very seriously the community request to engage in negotiations with Lambeth Council to determine a secure future for the library.

It is an outrage that the decision to withdraw funding for a public service appears to be based on a ‘falling out’ with Lambeth Council. I am wholly aware of the contents of the UNJL Agreement and the obligations of both councils. What I am not aware of is a mandate to withdraw funding for a public service based on alleged breaches of a legal agreement. The implied public mandate is for elected and paid councillors to sort out differences in a manner which puts public service at the centre of discussions and saves the public purse from unnecessary legal expenses.This appalling decision is compounded by the immediacy of it; at the very least, the 12 month notice period should have been served and therefore providing the community and other stakeholders with a reasonable timeframe to secure an alternative future for the library. This should have happened (and can still happen) regardless of any alleged breaches of contract because it shows common decency and regard for the REAL people who use and contribute to this valued service.

Not only does this decision demonstrate a complete lack of public service ethos and practice but it is also ridiculous when considering the modest sums that are required to fund the library; the community of Upper Norwood is all too aware that this library is 50% more efficient than any other library in the funding boroughs due to its independent status. What makes the decision even more absurd is that the Department for Media, Culture and Sport cites independent libraries as sustainable models for the future.I invite you to come and see how well supported this library, how well run it is, how diverse the range of activities are and how many different groups of society use it. With the absence of a town hall in Upper Norwood, the library is very much the hub of the community. Without it, where would our Big Society congregate and share information? 48% of the library users are Croydon residents. There is alternative library provision (although unsuitable for most including children, elderly/infirm and other individuals that need to be accompanied and what about those who can’t afford public transport? ) but where is the alternative community hub?

The area of Upper Norwood is unique in many ways and so is the library. Being on the fringes of 5 boroughs, the community of Upper Norwood is campaign hardened. The people here are used to being marginalised and sometimes forgotten but this doesn’t mean that they accept unjust, unrepresentative or unqualified decisions.

It is a travesty of public service that this decision has been made by paid public servants without any apparent regard for the community which the library serves.

I urge you to do the right thing and to enter into negotiations with Lambeth Council. I would also like to remind you that public servants are not beyond reproach and that the behaviour seen recently by Croydon Councillors is not appropriate or professional.

Regards

Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
020 7219 3409
jowellt@parliament.uk

Malcolm Wicks MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
020 7219 4418
malcolm.wicks.mp@parliament.uk

Val Shawcross AM
GLA, City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA
020 7983 4401/4371
valerie.shawcross@london.gov.uk

Derrick Anderson CBE
Lambeth Chief Executive
Town Hall
Brixton Hill
London SW2 1RW
020 7926 2941
danderson@lambeth.gov.uk

Mr Jon Rouse
Croydon Chief Executive
Taberner House
Park Lane
Croydon CR9 3JS
020 8760 5757
jon.rouse@croydon.gov.uk

Cllr Steve Reed
Leader Lambeth Council
Town Hall
Brixton Hill
London SW2 1RW
020 7926 1166
sreed@lambeth.gov.uk