Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, has launched an online survey as part of a campaign to resist the Labour-controlled council’s proposals to close or move Shirley Library.
Other “branch libraries” facing the axe or being moved or “redeveloped” under the consultants’ recommendations include Sanderstead, Bradmore Green and Coulsdon.
The MP’s survey is the latest signal of Jones’s rejection of the closure threat to Shirley Library, in her constituency. Having won the parliamentary seat from the Tories in 2017, Jones is clearly keen to avoid handing such an obvious political advantage to the Conservatives.
Yet Jones’s Labour colleagues on the council failed to advise the MP of the controversial recommendations in the report before it was published and then adopted as council policy at a cabinet meeting earlier this month.
In their report, the consultants wrote of Shirley Library: “Given the age, layout and condition of the current building we recommend carrying out feasibility of redevelopment on the current site and/or relocation/colocation in order to achieve greater accessibility for more deprived communities in the local area. There are opportunities to consider relocation.”
The consultants also suggested that “there is an opportunity to… release space” if the library remains on its current site – a remark widely interpreted as handing over part of the building to the council’s in-house house-builders Brick by Brick.
On being alerted to the libraries recommendations after they were highlighted by Inside Croydon, Jones immediately responded by stating publicly, “I am completely opposed to this.”
She promised to work with the local community “to ensure these proposals are ignored”.
Jones’s survey is targeted at Croydon Central constituents and asks respondents for their level of use of Shirley Library, whether they would like to see more services at the library, and a somewhat binary approach to “What do you think about the idea of moving Shirley Library?”.
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