Tessa Jowell visits Upper Norwood Joint Library to demonstrate her support for its continued place at the heart of the community

The Rt Hon.Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, joined a demonstration of over seventy concerned library users including children outside Upper Norwood Library on Saturday 24 February, lending support to the protest and petition against under-funding of the library and its continued place at the heart of our community. She adds her name to the thousands of others in signing the petition that opposes funding, service and staffing cuts to Upper Norwood Library.

Tessa Jowell MP joins the demonstration
Tessa Jowell MP joins the demonstration…..

Tessa Jowell signs the petition
…and signs the petition

On Tuesday 19 December 2006 over a hundred concerned library users, including children, gathered outside the Upper Norwood Joint Library in Westow Hill to demonstrate their anger at Croydon’s repeated refusal to provide adequate funding, in line with that received by other libraries in their borough. This action was followed by a march around the Triangle, which saw passing cars sounding their horns in solidarity and traders and shoppers waving in support.

Croydon Council claims that the limited funding is a consequence of the £37 million deficit that the new administration inherited after the last elections.  However, Croydon’s other libraries continue to receive inflation-linked funding and improved library services, while Upper Norwood’s remains at the 1992 level. This lack of parity sees Croydon Council taxpayers, living in Upper Norwood, subsidising the more centrally located Croydon libraries while their own long-established and well-used local library is allowed to decline.

In June 2004, after a £1.2m refurbishment, the Library reopened in a blaze of publicity from Croydon’s Mayor, local councillors and other dignitaries. The newly installed facilities require increased staffing and financial commitments, but, with little thought given to economic sustainability, uncertainty over funding continues to plague the future of this popular quality library.

The Crystal Palace Community Association and the Upper Norwood Library Campaign have pledged to fight to ensure that the Library receives proper long-term funding and that redundancies, reduced facilities and closure are not allowed to occur.