UKIP joins forces with Labour for library judicial review

Croydon’s Conservative-run council is forcing through policies that are so unpopular that the local Labour group is joining forces with UKIP to oppose them.

Campaigners are preparing for the next stage of their opposition to Croydon's privatisation plans

Campaigners are preparing for the next stage of their opposition to Croydon’s privatisation plans

This unlikely political alliance has come about to seek a judicial review of Croydon Council’s decision to hand over the borough’s 13 public libraries to a subsidiary of the building firm, John Laing.

A senior figure in Croydon’s Labour group has confirmed that they will work with UKIP to take the decision to an independent judge.

Croydon’s controversial decision to award an eight-year contract, worth an estimated £30 million, to John Laing Integrated Services has already been called in for scrutiny by Conservative councillors, who had all voted in favour of the decision. The opposition Labour group also called in the decision for scrutiny.

The scrutiny process could affect the contract offered to JLIS and has so delayed the process, which had aimed to privatise the borough’s libraries by April 2013.

John Laing is already the 50-50 partner of Croydon Council in a failing £450 million CCURV, or “urban regeneration vehicle” property speculation scheme. Under the terms of the CCURV agreement, Laing gets first refusal on any council properties put up for sale or redevelopment, and library campaigners are very worried that the outsourcing contract may see library buildings closed and handed over to the developers.

The purpose-built library building in New Addington has already been earmarked for closure, probably to make way for developers to build a supermarket.

According to library campaigner Elizabeth Ash, the terms of the library outsourcing contract being offered to JLIS are to maintain the existing service, but the “service that has been run into the ground since before the consultation began, with huge loss of staff, greatly depleted book stock, and lack of service in our libraries as staff are often ill-equipped and untrained.

“The strain this has placed on our original staff, and on those new trying to fulfil the role, must be immense,” Ash said.

“What we know, if this contract goes ahead, is that the terms and conditions of our remaining staff will be maintained, as they have no alternative … but there is no commitment to keep the many staff we understand are on short-term contract, so new staff can be taken on with lesser qualifications, pay and conditions,” said the Sanderstead resident.

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4 Responses to UKIP joins forces with Labour for library judicial review

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  2. anncreighton says:

    This is very disappointing news. Surely the Labour party is strong enough to take the council to judicial review without needing to join with a party whose views are so appalling on such issues of homosexualtiy and immigration.

    UKIP’s views need to be challenged strongly – I hope the Labour party will rethink.

  3. I am sure that the Labour Party can decide on a judicial review on their own. All we said was that we want proper consultation and public information about the proposal. If the Conservative administration will not provide it then we would support any party that will get that information and provide the consultation that the public is entitled to. At the moment a judicial review seems the only option left.

    However, I feel I should ask which view on homosexuality and immigration do you find so appalling?

    UKIP is a profoundly libertarian party dedicated to small government, low taxes, live and let live, free speech and thought and above all toleration of the rights and differences of others.

    UKIP thoroughly supports equal rights for same sex civil partnerships and equal treatment financially as married couples. As a matter of fact we support the same allowances for gay partners with children as married couples with children. Indeed many of our candidates are gay.

    On immigration the problem is that public services are being stretched by the increase in population (in some ways privatisation of libraries is a symptom of that). One of the factors causing increasing population. All UKIP is saying is that the level of population (and therefore immigration) should be controlled to levels that the country’s services can cope with. The control would be with work permits (similar to the system used by the USA, Canada and Australia) whereby only those who can support themselves financially or have skills where we have a shortage of would be allowed to enter this country to work.

    UKIP is not against the immigrants themselves or indeed the concept of immigration, which is necessary to support a vibrant economy. It is simply that the current economy cannot support too many unskilled employees and requires more people with specialised skills whom we have to attract to the UK.

    What do you find unacceptable about those policies?

    Peter Staveley
    UKIP Croydon

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