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Bid to halt Croydon libraries handover is defeated

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NEGOTIATIONS to finalise the contract which will see Laing Integrated Services take over the running of Croydon's libraries are to resume.

They were put on hold after a decision by the council's corporate services committee to choose Laing as the preferred bidder for the eight year contract was called in for consideration by the scrutiny committee.

Call-ins came from both the Conservative and Labour groups but Wednesday's scrutiny committee agreed that both should simply be noted, putting negotiations back on track.

The Labour call-in, dealt with in a closed session of the committee, centred on opposition to privatisation and why Laing had been chosen over Greenwich Leisure Services, whose bid would save the council more money over the contract's life.

The Greenwich bid was rejected because an officer's report said it did not meet staffing standards demanded by Croydon.

The Conservative call-in, held in public, allowed cabinet member for finance, Councillor Steve O'Connell, to tell members staff would be transferred under existing terms and conditions, no libraries would be closed, and opening hours would remain the same.

He also said the contract could be terminated, if Laing breached its terms.

Councillor Steve Hollands, chair of scrutiny, said after the meeting: "This is the only way we can keep the service together as it currently is.

Earlier in the week, at Monday's full council meeting, a Labour bid to get the council to drop plans to hand the running of libraries to Laing failed.

The motion was put forward by Labour's shadow cabinet member for culture and sport, Timothy Godfrey.


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