I have sent the following questions to Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Cabinet member for Culture in advance of the debate meeting he is holding on 8 July.
1. The LSE based Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion has reported that between 2009/10 and 2013/14 Croydon Council reduced spending on culture and related services by 39%. How much money does this represent?
2. If the cut approved by the previous administration in culture spending in 2014/15 is added what is the accumulated spending cut % and total money?
3. How much money is made from payments to the Council for filming feature films, TV shows and advertisements in Croydon, and is this invested in the cultural budget?
Croydon Music Service
4. Have you and your colleague members of the Cabinet responsible for children, families and learning examined the consequences of the £50,000 cut to Croydon Music Service budget for this financial year made by the previous administration in terms of the adverse effect on teaching children and young people the piano?
5. Have you discussed with the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Treasury the possibility of re-instating the cut to the Croydon Music Service from the reserve fund that has been created form the carried over 2013/14 underspend?
6. Have you discussed with Warehouse Theatre whether it would wish you to investigate whether negotiations can be held with the developer to switch the transferred Section 106 money back from the Council to the Warehouse Theatre?
7. What is the current estimate for the costs of physical improvements to the Fairfield Halls complex?
8. Have you been able to identify any savings in the total cost?
9. Have you examined the consequences of the cut in funding to the London Mozart Players for 2014/15 and discussed with the Leader and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Treasury the possibility of re-instating the cut from the reserve fund that has been created from the carried over 2013/14 underspend?
10. When do you intend to submit a report to the appropriate Committee on the actions that flowed from the previous administration’s decision to seek to change the composition of the Board of Trustees of the Fairfield Halls charity, to place on public record the views of the Charity Commission and to recommend that the resolution either be rescinded or the officers instructed that they are not to attempt to implement it.
11. As one of the Council representatives on the Board of Trustees of the Fairfield Halls charity will you be proposing that additional members be added to represent the Borough’s cultural communities?
12. Bearing in mind the digital divide what conclusions have you reached as to how Fairfield Halls can improve its programme offer so as to attract larger audiences?
13. When are works scheduled to improve the area between the entrance to Fairfield Halls and the main road so as to improve its visual attractiveness?
14. Given that during the debates on the sale of the Riesco Collection your colleague Sean Fitzsimons suggested that if he became Chair of the Scrutiny & Oversight Committee he would review the issue, why does it not appear in the Committee’s work programme?
15. Have you examined all the documentation regarding the legal ownership of the Riesco Collection and the tax agreement reached with the then Inland Revenue?
16. What conclusions have you reached as to whether the Council owns or not of the Riesco Collection and is free to sell items from it, and whether a tax payment is due to be paid to HMRC for partial ending of the tax agreement?
17. When do you intend to submit a report on the future of the Riesco Collection and how it is displayed?
18. Will you be recommending that the Council (1) agree not to sell any further items from the Riesco Collection during the life-time of this Council to 31 March 2018, and (2) that work start to re-establish a trust for the Collection?
19. What steps have you taken to monitor the library contract with a view to putting pressure on Carillion to improve the service as required under the contract, and if there have been significant failings.
20. Does the funding approved to the Upper Norwood Library since the new administration took power cover the operating deficit, and if not how much more is needed to be raised to avoid a reduction in service?
21. What is the rationale behind the decision not to sell the former Ashburton Library to a church, and what steps are being taken to consider its future use, including whether to asset transfer it to a community trust?
22. In view of the inappropriateness of SEGAS House as a site for an Academy School have you made representations to the Leader and Cabinet member for Children, Family and Learning that the Cabinet meeting on 14 July should be recommended not to approve the proposal to purchase the building for the proposed Oasis Academy, and that a study be undertaken of alternative uses, including as a cultural hub?
23. What plans are there to ensure that Braithwaite Hall becomes a viable and well used venue?
24. What plans are there for increasing the use of the David Lean Cinema?
25. Are CALAT going to remain in the Clocktower?
26. In order to display the whole art collection can the Art Gallery be expanded into the Local Studies/Archives by returning the latter to its former space in the Central Library with the added advantage of making much of its resources publicly accessible again on open shelves?
7 July 2014
A discussion paper ‘A New Future for Culture in Croydon’ that I have written and sent to Cllr Godfrey a few days ago is available on request from me at email@example.com.