Duplicity, as Croydon Council flouts the Upper Norwood Joint Library partnership agreement

Crystal Palace community groups are alarmed by yet another 'inappropriate manoeuvre' by Croydon Council, regarding the Upper Norwood Joint Library.

The Upper Norwood Library Campaign and the Crystal Palace Community Association view Croydon's four nominations, exclusively Cabinet Members from the far side of the borough, to this year's Joint Library Committee as a clear breach of the legally binding joint agreement between Croydon and Lambeth Council.

Campaigners also regard it as a deliberate misinterpretation of Croydon's own constitution as a means of maintaining political control of the Joint Library Committee.

John Payne, Chair of the CPCA said; "The Leader of Croydon Council seems to be under the impression that the Upper Norwood Joint Library provides library services for 40% of the Croydon borough, stretching from Crystal Palace in the north to Croham and Selsdon in the south. According to Croydon's own constitution, Joint Committees, which serve less than two-fifths of the borough, can be represented by local ward councillors. However, Councillor Fisher has decided to appoint four Cabinet Members instead. It is odd that there were local Upper Norwood councillors on the Committee between 2006-10, but having lost their seats they have now been replaced by councillors from Selsdon and Croham both miles away from Upper Norwood.

Given their wide range of other commitments, how plausible is it that these councillors will have the slightest interest, commitment, local knowledge or time for the Upper Norwood Joint Library? We regard Croydon's latest behaviour as yet another insult to the people of Crystal Palace and an affront to local democracy."

Croydon's nominations also overturn a 2006 amendment to the Joint Library Agreement (which was formally agreed by both Councils) that "at least two Members (of the four Joint Committee members) from each party (borough) should represent the Upper Norwood area."

Pam Gray, secretary of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign said: "It is clear that Croydon do not understand the criteria for membership of the Joint Library Committee. Nor have they grasped the fundamental funding issues, which affect the library service. On the basis of past experience, one wonders what their hidden agenda is service cuts, staff redundancies or even closure."

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