Upper Norwood Library faces an uncertain future

The unilateral decision by Croydon Council to ‘terminate’ the Upper Norwood Library Joint Agreement was, according to Croydon, the direct consequence of  ‘…fundamental breach of the agreement by Lambeth Council’.  Such breach, according to Croydon, was the refusal by Lambeth Council ‘to attend the last Annual General Meeting and failing to co-operate at the 2010 meeting.’

Lambeth Council contend that it was in fact Croydon Council that breached requirements of the UNJL Agreement that each council should appoint two local ward councillors to the Library Committee, and that any disputes or disagreements should be referred for arbitration.

Croydon Council’s response was to despatch, without prior notification to Lambeth Council or the Library staff, nine council officers who announced they were taking ‘…interim management control.’ and conducting Health and Safety, Human Resources and Internal Finances Audit, despite the UNJL being an independent library and not part of Croydon or Lambeth’s Centralised Library Service. The UNJL’s independent status has enabled it to be 50% more efficient in cost terms, than Croydon and Lambeth’s library services.

Croydon have now given Lambeth three options.

1. Buy Croydon’s half share of all UNJL assets and accept responsibility for the UNJL.

2. Take a lease of Croydon’s half share in the premises and become solely responsible for the UNJL.

3. Agree that the library will be sold with the proceeds, after settlement of all costs, equally divided between the two boroughs.

Despite Croydon’s claimed support for the Upper Norwood Library, these options provide little reassurance for the future of the 111-year old Library. Following Croydon Council’s recent decision to privatise it’s entire library service, CPCA has called a public meeting to provide an update on the situation and launch the next phase of the Library Campaign.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday 30th November, 7.30 pm at the Salvation Army Hall, Westow St. SE19.

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