A South Norwood councillor has described Croydon’s decision to abandon its legal agreement with Lambeth over the Upper Norwood Joint Library as “consistently wrong”, accusing Tim Pollard, the Conservatives’ deputy leader on the council, of not acting “in the interests of the library, its staff or the local community”.
Labour councillor Wayne Lawlor called on Pollard and his colleagues to take a more “mature approach” and get back around the negotiating table with their counterparts at Lambeth to find a workable solution that will sustain the 112-year-old library for many more years to come.
Earlier this year, Inside Croydon published the details of a confidential letter from Croydon’s chief executive, Jon Rouse, to Lambeth Council, in which he demanded that a valuation of the library building, on Westow Hill, and its stock, fixtures and fittings should be undertaken in secret, to facilitate a speedy closure. This has led to speculation that Croydon Council wants to close the library and have the building sold off for development.
While the end-of-March closure demanded in Rouse’s letter never materialised, the Conservative-led council seems no less determined to extricate themselves from the long-standing joint agreement with Lambeth, even in the face of a possible legal challenge from the neighbouring borough.
In a letter to the Croydon Guardian this week, Lawlor calls on Pollard to start talking with Lambeth. This is the text of the Lawlor letter:
Croydon Tories are at least consistent – consistently wrong.
Councillor Pollard attended the packed meeting at the Upper Norwood Corps of the Salvation Army, where hundreds of people who love the Upper Norwood Library (UNJL) gathered to express their love for the library and disgust at the way in which Croydon Council has behaved. How he managed to leave that meeting with a view that putting non-local Tory Councillors on the UNJL Committee was somehow acceptable to the Joint Agreement simply highlights what we are dealing with here.
Croydon Conservatives are so out of touch that they have lost their moral compass.
Even after hundreds of people told Cllr Pollard to get back to the negotiation table with willing partners Lambeth, he continues to obfuscate the matter.
For all of Cllr Pollard’s bravado, deep down he and his Tory colleagues know that what they are doing is not in the interests of the library, its staff or the local community. I cannot understand why it was acceptable in 2006 for Tory Councillors in South and Upper Norwood to sit on the UNJL Management Committee, yet in May 2010 the newly elected local Labour councillors were denied the same opportunity. Where is the consistency?
Cllr Pollard suggests that the UNJL is ‘ungovernable’. This is a baseless and spurious comment, indeed it is an insult to the dedicated and committed library staff and management; and those who have sat on the Joint Committee for many years, many of whom I’m sure Cllr Pollard would not recognise if they passed by him outside the library.
Cllr Pollard and his colleagues know very well that the truth behind the UNJL lay in its books; an efficient, well-run and cost-effective library in comparison to Croydon libraries that are sadly bogged down by huge 44% back office costs.
Come on, Tim, let’s see a mature approach from Croydon and get back to that negotiation table with Lambeth.
What is more important, Cllr Pollard, your pride or what local people want?
- Inside Croydon: A news source about Croydon that is not based in Redhill. Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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