Library campaigners: ‘Broken promises will be on our minds’

CROYDON COMMENTARY: ALUN and BARBARA THOMAS have sent an open letter to their local councillors, decrying the decision of Lambeth and Croydon councils to cut funding for Upper Norwood Library

We are concerned at the latest developments concerning the funding of the Upper Norwood Library. We have been misled in assuming that future funding was secured at a level to ensure the future of the library. Some nine months ago MP Steve Reed and Tony Newman launched the “Upper Norwood Library Declaration” which created a sense of false optimism.

Public Library generic - Upper NorwoodWe now learn that both Croydon and Lambeth are to reduce their commitment to a total of £100,000 per annum, which is insufficient to cover costs let alone the expansion promised in the “Declaration”. We are disappointed that this promise has been broken and remind you that the Upper Norwood Library is the vital heart of the Crystal Palace community.

It is not realistic for local residents, particularly the elderly and those with young children, to be expected to travel to Croydon or Brixton to access library services. Also students who regularly use the library for study will, like young families, have difficulty meeting the travel costs incurred.

In addition the Upper Norwood Library is a valuable local history resource. The Norwood Society has frequent local history enquiries from far and wide, and the comprehensive unique historical records on Norwood held at the library are an invaluable resource to us and many others.

Local politicians from Croydon and Lambeth help to present a cheque for nearly £50,000 towards the funding for Upper Norwood Library for the next year

Local politicians from Croydon and Lambeth present a cheque for nearly £50,000 towards the funding for Upper Norwood Library last November. In the picture are Upper Norwood councillors Pat Ryan (third from the right) and John Wentworth (fourth from left), while holding the cheque is Timothy Godfrey, the cabinet member for arts and culture

Local history has widespread interest, and around 50 people attend the monthly meetings we hold there. We are grateful for the willing help we regularly receive from the staff who do much to welcome all residents through the library’s doors.

We ask you to reconsider funding and remind you that as we prepare for an election the broken promises of 2014 will be in our minds.

  • Alun and Barbara Thomas are local residents, as well as organisers for the Norwood Society’s successful meetings at the Upper Norwood Library
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Alisa Flemming, Croydon North, Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood, John Wentworth, Libraries, Pat Ryan, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman, Upper Norwood Library Trust and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Library campaigners: ‘Broken promises will be on our minds’

  1. davidcallam says:

    What services should the councils cut instead of funding to the library?

    • There’s always the £1.5m councillors’ allowances each year which is jealously guarded so as to pay large amounts into the local parties’ coffers.

      There’s £200,000 to a PR company to run the laughably titled Fairness Commission.

      You could cut all the contracts with Grey Label PR and no one would notice or complain.

      Nathan Elvery – that’s another £180,000-plus.

      Or what about raking back some of the £10m over-spend on Waddon Leisure Centre?

      Barratt’s were getting Cane Hill for nothing – maybe the S106 on that and other local developments can be better and properly exercised?

      Oh, and we still don’t know why council offices that ought to have cost no more than £40m ended up with a bill to Council Tax-payers for £144m. Tony Newman did say he would “blow open the books” on that deal…

      Simple stuff, really. And no “front end services” affected at all.

  2. Bernard Winchester says:

    Yes, indeed: the libraries in general, and Upper Norwood in particular, are services which are much used and valued by the community: just visit it sometime if you haven’t been. It’s true that Council funding is very tight at the moment, but huge sums still seem to be forthcoming for large, and to me, unnecessary schemes like street lamp replacement (£100 million+) and pavement upgrades, which also cost millions. After all, I thought the cuts were supposed to take us back to 2006, not 1898 – when the Upper Norwood library was founded.

  3. whitgiftavenue says:

    Rather than ask for suggestions on what could be cut to fund libraries, it might have been more appropriate to ask our Councillors why they made promises they were either unable or unwilling to keep.

  4. Disgraceful, deceitful, dishonest, manipulative, cunning politicians. Hypocrites.

    There should be more funding for libraries to improve their services and I am willing to pay more council tax if they want (sometimes late payment and a fine). Libraries are the future for our young generation.

Leave a Reply