GENE BRODIE, our bookish gyms correspondent, on Croydon’s prompt response to the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion
Croydon Council moved quickly this morning to take back control of the borough’s libraries from contractor Carillion.
Carillion went into liquidation this morning, with a mountain of debt and serious concerns over the state of its retired staff’s pensions. Carillion was best known as a building and public works contractor, and in recent months had been handed many millions-pounds-worth of contracts for the Tory Government’s HS2 rail project and Crossrail in London.
In Croydon, they somehow landed the contract to manage the borough’s public libraries, after Tim Pollard’s Conservatives, who then controlled the council, outsourced the service in 2012.
Timothy Godfrey, the council cabinet member for books and stuff since Labour took control of the Town Hall two years later, has been itching for an excuse to bring the library service back in-house, and had been monitoring the corporate situation with Carillion closely since the company first started publishing profit warnings on the London Stock Exchange last July.
The company’s corporate financing problems had in recent months begun to impact the library service in Croydon, with mounting complaints over lack of maintenance of buildings and even library photo-copiers standing idle, unrepaired, because bills had been allowed to go unpaid.
Today, Godfrey announced that he intends to terminate Carillion’s contract in an effort to maintain a proper library service for the public and to protect the libraries staff’s jobs. Around 70 were employed under Carillion to run Croydon’s 13 public libraries.
“All of the 73 staff employed across all libraries are needed, so we do not expect to lose any jobs,” Godfrey said, adding that the council will be “picking up the mess left by this private company, and will be working behind the scenes to ensure all libraries remain open”.
Godfrey said this morning, “The council has been considering its options over the past few months after it became clear that Carillion was running into difficulties.
“We are determined to protect and boost our libraries for residents now and for generations to come.”
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