One month after Inside Croydon broke the news that an internal bid from Wandsworth council’s library department was being allowed to make a late run for the management of the public libraries in their own borough and Croydon – largely because the big beasts of the library outsourcing business had walked away from the lengthy and expensive process – news has been released from Taberner House this afternoon to confirm the identity of the three final bidders for the privatisation of our public libraries.
The privatisation of Croydon’s public libraries was never in any election manifesto from the Conservatives who control our council and nor has it ever been requested by local residents. But the policy is being bulldozed through by Croydon’s Tory council in a dogged pursuit of dogma.
“Both authorities have to find significant financial savings over the next few years,” came the excuse this afternoon from the council press release, apparently ignorant of the heavy loading of costs on Croydon’s library service through IT and back-office internal charges.
“Outsourcing was seen as the best option to reduce costs,” our council claimed, apparently in all seriousness, “and, at the same time, ensure that no libraries branches [sic] would have to close.”
This from the authority that as well as running down the service across the borough’s libraries, through staff cuts and selling off of books, has already closed the mobile library, has put Upper Norwood Joint Library under serious threat and is closing the library at New Addington, moving the “library” into the lobby of another council building. So no closures whatsoever.
The final bidders, as we predicted, are Greenwich Leisure, John Laing Services (a subsidiary of the company that is already in bed with Croydon over the £450 million URV property speculation deal) and Wandsworth.
Eight-year contracts are on offer, although the local Labour party has suggested that were they to win power in 2014, they would seek to cancel the deal.
“This concluding part of the tendering process follows several months of detailed discussions which have allowed both councils to make sure that the organisations who submit final bids are all fully capable of running the service,” an official council statement issued this afternoon by Croydon Council said.
Final bids will be due in next month, with the successful bidders taking over the running of our public libraries by April next year.
“This is an important milestone in the project as we have now closed our preliminary discussions with the bidders and they now have three weeks within which to complete and return their tender documents for us to evaluate against established criteria,” said Tim Pollard, the cabinet member for children, families and learners who inherited this policy from the shambles left by Sara “Book Token” Bashford.
Yet Pollard continues to trot out the party lie [sic] that the privatisation of Croydon’s public libraries was in some way ever demanded by the public. Click here to read our detailed report after Croydon Council was forced to release the results of the mishandled and mismanaged libraries consultation.
“We’re confident that the result of this process will be a solution that meets the objectives set for us by the many residents who took part in our consultation last year and who told us with resounding clarity that they did not want to see any library closures,” Pollard said, conveniently overlooking the fact that from nearly 6,000 responses, no one actually said that they wanted to see any libraries privatised, either.
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