The Upper Norwood Library Trust Update

Who we are?
We are a group of local residents committed to saving the library. We have all been involved in the library campaign over the last few years, some longer than others. In the summer of 2012 we had the idea of proposing to both the councils that, if they could not agree on a funding model or joint management, that the community could take over the running of the library.

What do we want to do?
After many meetings with a wide group of library campaigners and community members, including CPCA and Gipsy Hill Residents’ Association members, it was agreed that the best way to take over the running of a professionally staffed library was to set up an incorporated charity with a business arm.

We took expert legal advice on this, and we also consulted the staff. We agreed to name the charity The Upper Norwood Library Trust, as it says what it is and keeps the historic name.

Where have we have got to?
The campaign group and residents organisations then determined that a small group of interim trustees would be appointed to set up the Trust, and start intensive negotiations with the councils. So far we have employed a lawyer, highly skilled in these kinds of transfers from local government to trust status to set up the charity and the business for us.  With our lawyer we have made an application to the Charity Commission which should be approved soon.

We have also negotiated £5,000 ‘capacity building’ funding from both Lambeth and Croydon councils, and £10,000 of development funding from the Social Investment Business. We are using this funding to commission Locality, an expert community organization that has supported many libraries to set up as community run trusts.

Locality are working closely with us on the transfer to help us find Trustees and work on business development opportunities that will help fund the continuance of the library. Unfortunately we cannot use this funding on existing staff and running costs.

What’s going to happen next?
Our vision is to work, in the short term, within the severely cut budget to continue to provide a professionally run library service and that will always be at the heart of everything the Trust aims to do. In the medium to long term, when funds and resources allow, we intend to develop a community hub – the Crystal Palace Community Learning Centre  – a place both IN the community and OF the community that offers sustainable high quality learning, information and community services for all residents in the local area.

A brilliant library of the future with books at the heart of the operation. This aspiration follows our own consultation with the community and parallels the response to Croydon Council and Lambeth Councils’ consultations.

Like to get involved?
The UNLT is due to take over the running of the Upper Norwood Library and is looking for people with a range of skills and experience to get involved as trustees. For more information, see our Upper Norwood Library Trust Needs You! page or email bryher@me.com

February 2013 –
Croydon and Lambeth Councils are in negotiation to bring the Upper Norwood Joint Library into its new severely restricted budget.  We have been asked to present a business plan and a service model – which we have done. It is a particularly sensitive time for the beleaguered staff as they face either voluntary or perhaps compulsory redundancy and it is a matter of huge regret that the interim Trustees are unable to prevent this.

We are trying as hard as possible to influence the process to minimise damage and achieve the best possible future, but we do not yet have a definite date for handover.  We want it to be as soon as possible – aiming for April 2013.

These are difficult times, and cuts to public services are affecting all local communities. We are committed to ensuring that our library continues. Please do get involved if you would like to help. We are in the process of setting up a community forum and also building a website, but in the meantime please join our Facebook group (Save Upper Norwood Library (Crystal Palace) from Closure) to get in touch and to get regular updates, or send us your email via bryher@me.com

More details
See the Upper Norwood Library Trust website at www.unlt.org.