GENE BRODIE, our libraries correspondent, on the latest shocker from a construction company which is running down our public libraries
Carillion, the building company which runs Croydon’s public libraries, has been accused of “blatant discrimination” against the disabled over plans to withdraw the home library service from January 1, something described as a “disgraceful and stupid decision”.
Carillion, under the absurd “Cultural Community Solutions” branding it has given to its failing library service, wrote to residents earlier this month to announce that it is to withdraw the home delivery service in 2018 except where the recipient is “housebound” and has no one available to collect and return books for them.
The decision, Inside Croydon understands, had not been discussed at any stage with the borough’s elected councillors or cabinet member responsible for the library service, Timothy Godfrey.
Carillion’s parent company, as reported by Inside Croydon last week, is in desperate financial difficulties, so much so that in Croydon the libraries’ photocopiers and printers are going unserviced and unmaintained because outstanding bills with contractors have not been paid.
The withdrawal of the home disability service looks like another cost-cutting measure.
The move has led to a strong complaint from the Croydon Disability Forum, which describes the library home deliveries as “an essential service that helps to overcome social isolation for the elderly and disabled”.
Adrian Dennis, in his letter to Carillion as chair of the Croydon Disability Forum, says that many of the forum’s members, “describe this service as being essential for their sanity and prevents their otherwise fairly isolated circumstances from being a prison”.
In his letter, Dennis wrote, “Addressing social isolation is supposedly a key priority of Croydon Council. It therefore comes as a shock to discover that from 1st January this service is to be denied to those who desperately need it. In your letter to users of this service you state that from 1st January only those who are housebound will continue to receive this service. This is a disgraceful and stupid decision.
“In your letter you say that the service is only for those who cannot leave their home, the real meaning of housebound, and have nobody to collect books for them. This will exclude probably the great majority of disabled people who rely on this service.
“Many disabled people who rely on this service at present are not completely housebound and are able to get out with some form of assistance, yet would be unable to get to a library, or who may not be able to actually carry a book for more than a very short distance. This would mean that all wheelchair users and the disabled with physical or other mobility problems (eg. Parkinson’s, MS, etc), the blind and numerous other ailments, are now to be denied this essential service.
“This is discrimination pure and simple and must be explained.”
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