UNLC sends letters to all election candidates

Croydon and Lambeth candidates received the following letter from Joseph Figueira, Chair of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign



Upper Norwood Joint Library has been an integral part of the local community of Crystal Palace, which spans 5 boroughs, and is now in its 110th anniversary year. It is unique in being the only free independent jointly-funded public library in the country. It is managed by the Upper Norwood Joint Library Committee comprising councillors from both the parent Councils of Lambeth and Croydon, and community representatives, under a Joint Agreement that governs the funding basis for the library.


Thanks to the work of our Chief Librarian, Bradley Millington, and his staff, both past and present, our library stands in the vanguard of independence as an efficient and effective means of operating such a valued community service – a flagship model for both Lambeth and Croydon.


Upper Norwood residents are paying the same council tax as elsewhere in Lambeth and Croydon, and yet are not receiving the equivalent funding for their library. Evidence shows that funding from the parent authorities equates to two thirds of that of other libraries, whilst it performs double the work, out-classing all libraries in Lambeth and coming in second only to the Central Library in Croydon.  Without this, its service to the community is seriously compromised, the residents in this part of the boroughs are being unfairly short-changed, and there is a real danger of the library being threatened with closure.


Funding must at the very least be inflation linked, but ought rightly to match the level of funding as set out in the Chief Librarian’s business case.


The proposed new Upper Norwood Joint Library Charter is a breath of fresh air, intended to “serve primarily as a reaffirmation of the principles and traditions that have guided and sustained the UNJLA since its inception” but also to unblock the impasse and get everyone working together for common aims and purposes without distracting interference.


I am writing to you on behalf of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign committee and its members to request that you make specific pledges about the policies your party will pursue if it, either alone or in a coalition with another party, controls Croydon council following the 2010 elections.

We ask that you commit yourself to the following:

1.  to the continuation of independent status
2.  to fully support and bring about the demands of the Charter
3.  to remedy the unsatisfactory financial situation by guaranteed provision of revenue funding that is at least linked to inflation but preferably aligned to the business case
4.  to address the poor and unfair deal meted out to Upper Norwood residents with regard to the council tax apportionment to the library facility
5.  to maintain all of the current standard of service and facilities and improve upon them, through funding, encouragement, and all practical measures as necessary
6.  to work in a politically unbiased spirit of co-operation 

Our concern is to safeguard a positive future for this library, thereby improving the prospects of those of all ages who use it, and the sense of identity and pride in all members of the community. We hope you will pay more than lip-service and stand firmly for the very real attributes, benefits and good value the library provides to its community and which will in turn reflect in local esteem to the Council.


I would like to hear from you soon with your party’s commitment to the above. In any event we would be pleased to explain our reasoning and to discuss them with you.


Yours sincerely


Joseph Figueira