Wednesday 9 May 2012

Croydon shy to consult on its libraries

Croydon, the council that professes efficiency embedded in its DNA, has been caught out again for the shambolic handling of another library consultation. The council not only omitted to advertise the consultation on Upper Norwood Joint Library, it actively promoted it on the council website as not yet open for consultation
All this, despite the consultation actually being open.

The original Croydon consultation on six libraries was similarly shambolic but, like Upper Norwood Library users, the community jumped into action to spread the word. 
  • Residents raised the alarm when the consultation documents did not arrive in libraries.  
  • They then raised the alarm when the consultation documents ran out only days after they became available. 
  • They objected when the next batch of documents were so poorly printed they were barely legible, certainly unsuitable for anyone with visual impairment of any kind.
  • Residents even resorted to photocopying consultation documents at their own expense to keep them available to those wishing to respond.
  • They continued to demand that the promised children's consultation document be released. It was, but very late in the process, meaning many were unaware and unable to respond.
  • Residents also repeatedly corrected MPs, councillors and, in particular, Sara Bashford, the cabinet member responsible for the exercise, when libraries were referred to as partly or completely discretionary,
  • And spoke up in numbers when Croydon embarked on an outsourcing exercise involving the whole network of Croydon libraries (not just the six that were the subject of the consultation), denying residents and library campaigners the details of the 412 responses that the council claimed informed this decision.
Having given every assistance to the council in the original consultation on six of its libraries by flagging up where things went wrong, library campaigners stood back to observe the Upper Norwood Library consultation. checking daily to see when the details of the consultation being open would be released.

Despite finally losing our nerve and posting the details of the misinformation on this blog it took Croydon a further week to correct the information on their website.

That's less than a fortnight before the consultation ends and over a bank holiday weekend when the furthest thing from people's minds in checking the council website.

You can find full and correct details here:

And the worst thing about this?

Upper Norwood Library campaigners had already alerted Croydon Council when they had prematurely advertised the library consultation as being open before the opening date, sending residents on a wild goose chase for the consultation documents. They corrected the information on the council website but failed to revise the entry when the consultation did actually open.

Given that the consultation meeting has now been rescheduled for the evening of Wednesday, 16th May it allows residents, still unaware, the window of just a few days to grab a consultation document and respond by the deadline of Sunday, 20th May. 
Might have been useful to have added details of the consultation deadline. Just saying!
If you care about Upper Norwood Library please make sure you attend the meeting and make sure you respond to the consultation.  My advice would also be to keep a record of your response to help campaigners to represent your views.  Croydon seem very reticent to share!

The irony of Croydon producing a poster to promote the meeting of the 16th, that includes the wording,
"Your chance to learn more about library proposals for library services in the area" 
just days before the close of the consultation, may be lost on the council but not on the residents who stand to lose their valued, much-loved and much-used library service.

No wonder Inside Croydon likened dealing with Croydon Council and its political leadership to dealing with someone with all the maturity of a petulant toddler, with their fingers firmly planted in their ears.

Yeh but, no but. What consultation?
Statutory.... you what?
The fate of Croydon's central network of thirteen libraries may well be sealed but you have a real chance to speak up for the jointly run Upper Norwood library. Don't miss your chance!

More details at
Twitter: @saveunlibrary!/search/saveunlibrary

And, of course, the main Croydon libraries campaign group:
blog :

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