Dozens of families come out in support of five Croydon libraries threatened with closure

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

Dozens of families came out to support their local library amid fears council cuts could see it closed for good.

The future of five Croydon libraries has been left hanging in the balance as the council works to close a £67m gap in the budget.

Croydon council has said Broad Green, Bradmore Green, Sanderstead, Shirley and South Norwood libraries could all be lost.

As part of a £500,000 council plan, South Norwood Library was due to move from its current ‘outdated and inaccessible’ Lawrence Road site into a new space in Station Road, on the ground floor of Brick by Brick development Pump House.

However, a year after it was set to open, building delays mean that the transition is yet to happen. And now the council says it is one of the five in Croydon that may close.

More than 100 protesters gathered outside Pump House on Saturday.

Libby Hamilton, whose petition to save the library has gained 2,600 signatures, said: “There was one little kid holding a sign saying ‘what’s a library mummy?’ – we really want our children to know what a library is and appreciate it.”

Ms Hamilton, who has lived in the area since 2007, works in children’s publishing and regularly takes her two-year-old son Jacob to the library.

She added: “We won’t find out until January what is being proposed, but whatever happens with the building as a whole, we need a library within that building staffed by librarians.

“We are really in danger that the council suggests we have a room full of books managed by volunteers.

“It is like saying we can have a disco but no DJ or a church without a pastor.”

Children’s author Laura Henry, creator of Jo Jo and Gran Gran on CBeebies, attended the protest.

Afterwards, she tweeted: “I lived in South Norwood for 10 years. My sons and I practically lived in this library.

“Libraries are the heart of a community and books and reading are super important.”

A public consultation on the plans is set to take place, where proposals for the libraries will become cleared.

Last week, cabinet member for leisure, Councillor Oliver Lewis, said: “The following factors have been taken into account in our decision making. Things like footfall, book issues, PC sessions, geography, cost of repairs and maintenance.

“On that basis we will be going out on consultation on the closure or alternative cost neutral models of operation of five libraries.”

The new Friends of South Norwood Library is looking for volunteers to join the group and has planned a zoom meeting for anyone interested on Thursday at 7.30pm.

For more details click here.

Pictured top, and inset, protesters out on force at the weekend

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