‘Consultation on the Future of Library Provision in Upper Norwood and Surrounding Areas’

Reason for this Advice Note:

The future of our 112 year old, independent Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL) is threatened due to Croydon Council’s withdrawal of £200K funding. Croydon Council has a duty to consult before a final decision. If responses to consultation show lack of interest in or use of the library, the threat is real. However, with your help, we may persuade Croydon to reinstate funding and save our library.

People have told Upper Norwood Library Campaign (UNLC) they find parts of Croydon’s consultation form confusing. UNLC has thus produced this advice. Please amend or replace our illustrative answers to reflect your own views. However, we advise completing the form so as to leave Croydon in no doubt that the library is much-used and loved. Its independent status means it truly serves the local community (see Q30). The suggestion to use other libraries, cut books, staff or hours would seriously damage the life of this area.

Please return completed forms to Upper Norwood Joint Library, Westow Hill, before 28 April 2012.
 

UNLC Advice:

It is unclear how Croydon Council’s questions 19-29 will be analysed, as ‘impact’ could be positive or negative – we suggest you write in whether you find the relevant impact positive or negative. For questions asking you to describe the impact, we have provided a list of suggestions you may wish to draw on. Feel free to copy, modify or use your own – but please let Croydon know the strength of your feelings!

Suggested reasons for ‘negative impact’ responses (questions 23, 26 and 29):

• Loss of a proper library would tear the heart out of the area….

• Other libraries – Norbury, Thornton Heath,South Norwood, Anerley – are too far to really replace an accessible local service in the town centre where I shop and do other things….

• Cutting or ceasing funding would destroy a unique service, responsive to local needs….

• Vandalising a successful independent library ruins a model with potential for wider application…

• Ofsted says national reading/literacy levels are worryingly low – does Croydon want to add to this?

• Fewer books, staff or other facilities would undermine a unique, much-loved local service….

• Cutting parts of the library would damage an integrated all-age service….

• Arbitrary funding cuts ignore UNJL’s exceptional value for money compared with unwieldy, centralised Council-run libraries with high overheads….

• Our library costs 7 times less per member compared to Croydon libraries….

Options One to Four:

The form gives no opportunity to choose an option. We suggest you write ‘This is my preferred option’ against the option you prefer.

‘Option One – Croydon continues to fund the UNJL at existing levels’

Q19 ‘What would be the impact on you if Croydon Council’s option one is chosen?’

We suggest you tick ‘High impact’ – continuing funding at the same level means all its great services which benefit you and your community can continue. If so, write next to it ‘(positive)’.

Q20 – ‘If there is an impact tell us what this is?’

We suggest ‘Continuing Croydon funding at current levels would have a high positive impact because’:

• Health and wellbeing of elderly and/or disabled people benefit greatly from a local accessible facility…

• Children benefit hugely from the imaginative, customised Children’s Library….

• Young people have quiet areas for homework, help and encouragement for study….

• Special reading sessions for kids, e.g. linked with activities like nature trails…

• Practical help for the unemployed, poor and socially excluded, in job search and self-improvement….

• Research on theCrystalPalaceand other local history, and e.g. local history talks in the library

• Our library is the buzzing heart of the local community, a hub helping build the Big Society….

• Highly skilled, customer-friendly staff who know what I want and how to help….

• Unique independent status, which allows tailoring services to local needs….

• The library increases footfall for local businesses – 1000+ visits a day….
• Difficult to use a library if it is not where I shop and do other things, as inCrystalPalace…

• As a parent of young children I cannot easily get to other libraries – high travel cost/lack of time…

• My child learns valuable social skills at the Waggle and Hum sessions…

• For young mums and dads this is an important place to engage with other parents…

• Author visits, reading groups, other special events and activities….

• 7 times lower costs per member when compared with directly-controlled Croydon libraries…

• Wonderful choice of books, staff selection of choices of the week and month…

• Remember the riots – community facilities help keep communities alive…

Q21 – ‘If the Council goes with option one but has to make savings at the UNJL as a result of Lambeth’s reduction in funding, which one of the following would you support?’

UNLC suggests you tick ‘None’

‘Option Two – Croydon continues to fund the UNJL at a reduced level’

Q22 – ‘What would be the impact on you if option two is chosen?’

UNLC suggests tick ‘High impact’ and write next to it ‘(negative)’

Q23 – ‘If there is an impact tell us what this is?’

We suggest replyCroydon funding at a reduced level would have a high negative impact because’ (insert reasons – for examples, see Suggested reasons for ‘negative impact’ on page 1 of this advice).

Q24 – ‘If the Council goes with option two but has to make savings at the UNJL as a result of Lambeth’s reduction in funding, which one of the following would you support?’

UNLC suggests you tick ‘None’

‘Option Three – Croydon ceases to fund the UNJL and instead makes some investment in other library services for residents in Upper Norwood and the surrounding area’

Q25 – ‘What would be the impact on you if option three is chosen?’

UNLC suggests you tick ‘High impact’ and write next to it ‘(negative)’

Q26 – ‘If there is an impact tell us what this is?’

We suggest replyCeasing Croydon funding for UNJL and making some unspecified other investment would have a high negative impact because’ (see Suggested reasons for ‘negative impact’ on page 1).

Q27 – ‘If the Council goes with option three and is able to make some investment in other library services which of the following would you support?’

UNLC suggests you tick ‘None’

‘Option Four – Croydon ceases to provide any funds for the UNJL and uses the savings elsewhere, reducing the need to make other cutbacks to other Croydon services.’

Q28 – ‘What would be the impact on you if option four is chosen?’

UNLC suggests you tick ‘High impact’ and write next to it ‘(negative)’

Q29 – ‘If there is an impact tell us what this is?’

We suggest replyCeasing Croydon funding for UNJL and using savings elsewhere would have a high negative impact because’ (see Suggested reasons for ‘negative impact’ on page 1).

Q30 – ‘If you would like to put forward other options or variations on the Options set out in this consultation paper, please tell us here’

We suggest: We want UNJL to remain open, independently managed, fairly and adequately funded, and professionally staffed to provide an efficient and comprehensive service, with locally accountable, community-orientated governance, under the terms of the 2010 UNJL Charter.

We do not want our Library closed, outsourced, privatised, under-resourced, inadequately staffed, or ‘taken over’ by a Borough library service, as this would destroy its 112 year old independence that we value so highly for responsiveness to local needs, staff commitment, effectiveness and efficiency.

Published by the UNLC www.unlc.org.uk/ March 2012