The Upper Norwood Library is a unique institution on Westow Hill in the south of the ward, on the border with Croydon. The Library is over 100 years old and is independent of Lambeth and Croydon’s library services. The library is jointly funded by the two boroughs but Croydon has paid over £20,000 less to the libary than Lambeth for some years now.
Local Cllrs Matthew Bennett, Jenny Brathwaite & Niranjan Francis pledged, during the election, to continue to support the library’s independence and to push for a fairer funding deal from Croydon. Since the election Cllrs Bennett & Brathwaite have been appointed to the library’s management committee along with Lambeth’s cabinet member for culture, Cllr Florence Nosegbe and Knight’s Hill Cllr Jane Pickard. This committee is supposed to be made up of local councillors and should act in an a-political manner to act in the interests of the library and local community.
Unfortunately, Croydon decided not to appoint local councillors as their representatives and instead appointed four of their cabinet members from the southern half of Croydon. This has caused a great deal of anxiety amongst the local community and library campaigners and we are committed to ensuring that the library doesn’t become a political football or is unfairly targetted for cuts by Croydon. At the meeting of the Joint Library Committee on 30th June we stood up for the library and the local community in a heated meeting at the Crystal Palace Salvation Army to make sure that Tory-controlled Croydon wasn’t able to advance their agenda without reference to local people.
Croydon hasn’t paid its fair share of funding for the library for years – even though average council tax is some £300 higher in Tory-controlled Croydon than Labour-controlled Lambeth. Cllrs Bennett, Brathwaite & Francis will be working with colleagues on Lambeth council, local MP Tessa Jowell, community groups and the library campaign group to make sure that the library continues to thrive in future years.