Another flaw in the omnishambles of Croydon’s library privatisation process emerges, with a £105,000 cut to the budget of the borough’s local studies and archives service proposed by the culture-free-zone that is our council. The proposal is, in effect, a closure of the archive service to the public.
When Croydon joined forces with Wandsworth to seek tenders to run the boroughs’ public library services, Conservative-run Wandsworth was savvy enough to include the management of the archives in its requirement. Croydon didn’t bother.
The Museum of Croydon survived a round of cuts two years ago, when the David Lean Cinema at the Clocktower was closed and the annual Mela music festival axed, only because our council twigged, just in the nick of time, that closure of the museum could force them to refund the Heritage Lottery Fund of the thick end of a £933,000 grant.
Now, the Philistines running our council have turned their attention to the archives service, which they intend to cut back to the minimum level required by the law. It is possible that it could effectively deny public access to the Local Studies Library.
If ever you watch Who Do You Think You Are, where the random celeb is seeking to discover a long-lost grandparent or family home, it is the local studies library where they often get key pieces of information. Any future programmes that might feature a Croydon star – Sue Perkins? Bill Nighy? Roy Hodgson? – might only be able to show them banging on the Town Hall door, and walking away, unhelped and empty-handed, having reached another dead end.
The consultation period – what do you mean, you hadn’t noticed that there was any consultation going on? – ends next Tuesday, January 15. Responses should be sent to Councillor Tim Pollard – firstname.lastname@example.org
None of the information in the preceding paragraph can be easily found on Croydon Council’s website. Perhaps they’ve archived it?
Our council’s motto is “Proud to Serve”; its website’s slogan is “Faster, Smarter, Better”. We believe that neither of these are used ironically.
“I use the Croydon local studies centre frequently and there is a statutory legal requirement, I believe, for each borough to have an archive,” an Inside Croydon loyal reader writes to tell us. “The Museums, Libraries & Archives Council, which would have been able to advise on this, was closed in May 2012 in the bonfire of the quangos.
“The issue is that there has to be an archive, but there’s nothing actually in the rules which requires it to be open to the public. It must have been taken as a given. However if they are to sack all the staff and just ‘box’ all the records, it won’t be collecting new material – which is part of what archives are set up to do, and of course, there’s not really any point of an archive if no one can consult it.
“It is well-used and the sort of detailed info and records they have isn’t available anywhere else, and so much staff expertise would be lost if they lost their jobs.”
None of which, you have to suspect, has ever been considered by Croydon Council, as they sneak through another “painless” cut, while continuing to build their £145 million HQ and forking out tens of thousands of pounds of public money to “consultants” every week.
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