Phase 2 libraries consultation for Croydon opens following failed Phase 1

Croydon Council received just 2,510 responses to the first phase of the consultation, despite inviting individuals and groups to submit multiple responses.

In phase 1, the Cabinet member and council officers in charge failed to consult on options that would realise the savings they aimed to achieve, so have had to drop the options of closing five libraries outright. 

Astonishingly, we are also now expected to believe that the Council suddenly found nearing £1million of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money to cover all the maintenance and refurb costs on these five libraries, although these costs were a key reason for earmarking them for closure.

Doesn’t instill much confidence in the current council’s handle on the finances or figures, does it?

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Save Sanderstead Library Campaign fights on

The campaign to Save Sanderstead Library has formally been in existence since May 2011, later joining forces with other library campaign groups under the banner of Save Croydon Libraries. This website was originally that of Save Sanderstead Library campaign.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts for Save Croydon Libraries are still in operation and members are still active in the Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.

Yet Save Sanderstead Library supporters and campaigners, again, face the threat to our library from local councillors and the local residents’ association who, without reference to the existing campaign or to local residents, have put forward plans to set up a Friends of Sanderstead Library.

A good idea, I hear you say?

Let’s not forget that one of the key reasons Save Sanderstead Library campaign was formed was because the Conservatives, who were in power at Croydon Council at that time, assisted by the local RA who failed to engage with or represent the views of local residents, were doing exactly as the Labour-run council in Croydon is doing now…

as this except from the original post on this site demonstrates.

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Sanderstead RA wants to run Sanderstead Library…. again!

Deja vu?

No.  You really have seen it all before.

Here are the plans of Sanderstead Residents’ Association for a friends’ group. The suggested list of this new group includes heavy involvement from the local Tory councillors.  The friends’ group suggestions also list groups to maintain the gardens, deal with fundraising, look at running a community cafe, to cost maintenance work and the local church running groups in the library.

The first protest march back in 2011. Not a local councillor or a member of the local RA in sight.

The current SRA Chair writes, via email to SRA members on 28 May 2021,

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Croydon Council asked but did they listen on libraries?

The report to Cabinet listed new options for Phase 2 of the libraries consultation and Cabinet was asked to approve these recommendations.  You can find the lengthy paperwork and a recording of the meeting here.  

The results of the libraries consultation were requested under Freedom of Information (FOI) as the report, although lengthy, lacked any real substance. Find the FOI here.

It reads:

“Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please provide the full consultation responses and data from the Croydon Libraries consultation, Phase 1, ending 14 March 2021. This information informed the report, now published, to be considered by Croydon Council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee on 30 March, 2021.

I trust it can be provided quickly and easily. This is needed in order to properly inform residents, council officers and councillors prior to decisions being taken to limit options in Phase 2.

Please ensure to include the text of all the individual comments received, in whatever form (inc. consultation/email/comments recorded by phone, made in all meetings relating to the consultation), as well as the overall statistics on each question. If it is possible to provide both numbers and percentages, that would be helpful, particularly in light of the discrepancies already noted in stats presented in this phase of the consultation process.

Given the extremely quick turn around of this report to Scrutiny and its lack of any real detail, it is vital that Croydon Council makes the requested information available as soon as possible to inform all interested parties and to provide assurance to all concerned that the consultation responses have been considered fully.

I look forward to receiving the full information shortly.

Yours faithfully,

Elizabeth Ash”

You can find the 882 page spreadsheet provided as part of thie response to this request here: FOI 3368661 Survey Responses REDACTED

Do YOU think the council has considered the results? Here are just a few screenshots of the document:

“A follow-up request was submitted as a result.. It reads:

Dear Croydon Council,
Thank you but you have provided the data with the free text sections in a raw unanalysed form. I was seeking the full analysis of all the data that informed the report. Everyone contributing to the consultation would expect that the information they provided would have been analysed and considered.

Please can you confirm whether what you have provided to me is the full extent of the analysis of the data or whether the free text sections were categorised, analyzed and totalled? If this analysis has been done, please would you provide this?

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Ash”

The report on the analysed data, if it exists, should be easy to supply as we are told it informed the recommendations. Elizabeth has also written to Robert Hunt to ask for a copy and suggest that this be uploaded on the libraries consultation page for all to see. There has been no reply to that request either.

It is looking more and more like the views of respondents were disregarded and that there was no analysis of the many comments made.

What do YOU think?

Libraries decision called in to scrutiny – 27 May 2011, 5.30pm

The decision to progress to Phase 2 consultation on libraries was taken at the Cabinet meeting on 17 May 2021 with hardly a murmur and the Shadow cabinet member silenced when he tried to speak.

The recommendation to consult on the recommended options went through on the nod BUT it has been called in and goes to Scrutiny at 5.30pm tonight.

 
The papers for this item are the report that went to Cabinet. Find them on our website – an extract of the papers relating to libraries item only, or download the Agenda Report pack on the link below for all the reports. Relevant pages for Libraries are p35 to 256.
 
 
Let’s hope it gets properly scrutinised tonight.
 
 
 

 

Run the library, share the space or move it to a new location? What are the plans of the groups interested in libraries under threat in Croydon?

Groups or oganisations were listed in the scrutiny report as having indicated an interest in running community libraries in Croydon. These are relisted in the report going to Cabinet on 17 May, and are:

  • Asian Resource Centre Croydon
  • Coulsdon Primary School
  • Friends of South Norwood Library
  • Museum of Diversity
  • Sanderstead United Reform Church
  • Shirley Children’s Centre
  • West Wickham Baptist Church

BUT they are only listed as ‘expressing an interest in partnering with the Libraries service’ in the latter report.

Who are these groups and what are their intentions?

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Recommended options on libraries goes to Cabinet

The report produced on the phase one libraries consultation that went to Scrutiny in March was heavily criticised by the Scrutiny committee. We spoke out about the report and the poor consultation process at this meeting.  Although offering further information it was not possible to squeeze into the three minutes allocated to speak, we’ve heard nothing since. 

The paper for Cabinet meeting on 17 May 2021 is lengthy and muddled. You can read it here: Agenda Item 7 – libraries -Docs for Cabinet, 17_05_2021

The Phase 1 consultation focussed on closure of the five libraries or finding options to run them that are cost-neutral to the council. This was to realise a saving of £511,500. Community-run libraries were heavily pushed before and during the consultation. Yet the options now materialising (we are told as a result of the Phase 1 consultation process) are different options as the council only realised after consulting that closing five libraries or turning them over to volunteers to run them would not make the savings they say are needed! 

The Cabinet meeting will be webcast and you can view it live here.

The webcast recording can be found here. 

https://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/croydon/meetings/12135?st=7860

Libraries is from 2:11.00

 

Peter Underwood, Croydon Green Party “…this temporary financial situation should not be used as a reason to make permanent changes in our library service.”

We invited the four main parties and the three MPs in Croydon to provide their party’s policy is on public libraries and their stance on Croydon libraries in particular.

Peter Underwood makes the following statement on behalf of the Croydon Green Party…

“We are completely opposed to the proposed closure of Croydon’s Libraries. Libraries are a vital part of our communities, both in terms of the direct services they provide and as a hub for other community activities.

As a community resource, we welcome the involvement of communities in decisions about how libraries are run and we value the work of volunteers to support our libraries and provide a wider range of services. However, volunteers should never been seen as a replacement for properly qualified library staff and the responsibility for providing a library service remains with the Council. The management plan for our libraries should always be based on them being run by paid librarians, not relying on volunteers to keep core services running.

We acknowledge that the disastrous cuts in funding by the Government and the financial mismanagement at Croydon Council have left Croydon’s finances in a difficult position. But this temporary financial situation should not be used as a reason to make permanent changes in our library service.  

There is no need for the Croydon’s libraries to be closed, this is a choice that has been made and we believe it is the wrong choice. In fact there is a desperate need for our libraries to be open and serving our communities and so we will fight against the plans to close them.”

Chris Philp MP is the only other party or MP to have responded so far…

JOIN US! Save Croydon Libraries Campaign Meeting – 13 May 2021, 7pm

A meeting for anyone interested in fighting to save Croydon’s libraries – to keep the whole public library network in Croydon properly funded, staffed and stocked.

Join us for updates, to discuss the report going to Cabinet the following week and what we can do to campaign to save our libraries.

A download of the relevant part of the report pack for Cabinet (pages 167 to 375) can be found here: Agenda Item 7 – libraries -Docs for Cabinet, 17_05_2021

Please book via Eventbrite.

It’s free to attend but only those who have booked will be admitted so please spread the word!

Attendees will need a Zoom account (this could be a free one) to join the meeting. Just log into your account and use the link you’ve been sent to join the meeting. The meeting will open five minutes prior so we can start promptly at 7pm.

 Download a copy of the flyer to share, here: Save Croydon Libraries meeting – 13 May 2021

Sign the petition here.

Chris Philp MP, Croydon South – “The council needs to realise where residents’ priorities lie, and protect our libraries”

We invited the four main parties and the three MPs in Croydon to provide their party’s policy is on public libraries and their stance on Croydon libraries in particular.

Chris Philp MP is the only one to have responded so far….

 

“There is absolutely no excuse for the Council to close our libraries. The Council has run up so much debt through reckless spending that it has become bankrupt, but cutting vital services like our libraries is not the solution. Continue reading