The Save Croydon Libraries campaign meets this evening at 7pm on Zoom to discuss issues and decide next steps. One of these will be how to respond to the decision of some organisations to express an interest in taking over the libraries the Council proposes to close.
This is an issue of strategy and tactics and timing. Did the Councillors:
- not realise that including the option in phase one would distort the consultation process, or
- decide on it to divide potential opposition?
It can be argued that as the consultation was phase one, there should be unity against any closures.
It is the second phase consultation which will be influence whether some libraries are closed or not. At that point the Council could ask whether any organisations would want to take on their management.
There is a strong case that the organisations should withdraw their expressions of interest and work with the campaign. Once the result of the second consultation is known, they can then decide whether to re-submit their expressions of interest.
Given that all of the organisations will be weak in relation to their ability to run and fund the libraries, it may be that instead of re-submitting their expressions of interest they should set up a social enterprise organisation to offer to take over all of the libraries that the Council may decide to close.
In terms of the tactics and strategy, if the second phase consultation is flawed it may be open to legal challenge. Organisations need to think carefully about the effect of disagreements over the public row among their members, and about their reputations outside.
Save Croydon Libraries Concerned About Friends of South Norwood Library
Elizabeth Ash, the Chair of the Save Croydon Libraries campaign, writes:
‘I wanted to give the Friends of South Norwood Library the opportunity to explain the full extent of their proposal. Now that they have updated their post with details of their plans for the building I have posted the details on our website. Do take a look. This plan does not align with that of our campaign and I was not aware of their plans so statements to that effect needed to be challenged.’
Ash also says: ‘As at least two of the potential options being considered as a result of Phase 1 of the libraries consultation will affect ALL libraries in Croydon, do please spread the word and encourage people to join the campaign, sign the petition and get involved. Please share articles posted on our website and our social media posts.’
Save Croydon Libraries At Scrutiny
Because the Save Croydon Libraries campaign had made a statement highly critical of the consultation report presented to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee on Tuesday night, its Chair Elizabeth Ash was asked to address the Committee. My impression was that Oliver Lewis, the Cabinet member and the officers did not accept any aspect of the critique. They justified the difficulties on the COVID pandemic, and said the consultation was based on advice by the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The one concession to several criticisms made in consultation was that the issue of public transport links between closed libraries and the nearest open library will be looked at. You can read what Elizabeth said and her comments on the meeting at