Too often when dealing with Croydon Council and its political leadership, it feels as if you are talking to someone with all the maturity of a petulant toddler who has pushed their fingers in their ears and chants loudly “Not listening! Not listening! Not listening!”
Tomorrow is National Libraries Day. All across the country, it seems, except in Croydon.
This is not the first time that Croydon has declared a form of cultural UDI from the rest of the UK. In the past, while the rest of the nation has staged events to mark the coming Olympics, Croydon has stood on the sidelines, cocking a pose of snooty disdain.
The common denominator in all this is that Councillor Sara Bashford happens to be the Croydon cabinet member in charge of culture and sport, for whom any undertaking to improve or extend the borough’s engagement appears to be all just too much trouble.
You can almost hear Bashford, as she sits at her desk in Gavin Barwell’s constituency office (where she collects a publicly funded salary as a parliamentary assistant, in addition to her £45,000 in “allowances” from Croydon council), saying “Bovvered?” in an ignorant, Vicky Pollard sort of way.
Good grief: why would the council want to do something that encourages more people, potentially new users, to come into its libraries?
Today, specialist publication The Bookseller is on Croydon’s case. Noting that there will be 200 events staged in libraries around the country on Saturday, the website reports that when a Croydon resident enquired what activities might be staged in their borough’s soon-to-be-privatised libraries, they never received even the courtesy of a reply.
The Bookseller goes on to relate the petulant toddler approach from Danny Brierley’s top team in Croydon’s press office, who claimed “a number of events taking place under the National Library Day banner this Saturday”.
Trouble is, the Croydon spokesperson was either misinformed, or worse. Because most of the events that they listed as being staged on Saturday would be held in any case, and a visit to the council’s own website shows the events routinely scheduled, but with not a mention of National Libraries Day.
“Not listening! Not listening! Not listening!”
This, remember, comes from the same Croydon Council and Sara Bashford who on Monday stood up in a full Town Hall meeting and declared that no branch libraries are to close, while presiding over the withdrawal from the Upper Norwood Joint Library agreement and overseeing the closure of the branch library at New Addington.
Bashford says she does not know the details of the facilities or floor space that will be available for library services when the New Addington library is “transferred” to the lobby of another public building, which is either incompetent or deliberate withholding information which undermines her position.
National Libraries Day has the support of a wide range of associations including the National Literacy Trust, the National Union of Teachers, The Society of Authors, The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians and the Society of Chief Librarians.
Yet again, however, due to their council’s stubborness, intransigence or downright ignorance, the people of Croydon will miss out on the benefits that being involved in such an event might offer.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Mead says he’s “proud” of Croydon’s £50m uncollected tax (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon is selling off library books ready for privatisation (insidecroydon.com)
- MP Barwell: Croydon’s libraries are safe. For now (insidecroydon.com)
- Council defies public and goes ahead with library closures (insidecroydon.com)