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Upper Norwood Library set for cash injection

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CONFIRMATION that Croydon's new Labour council will increase funding for Upper Norwood Library has come this week.

What is not clear is just how quickly the election pledge to match cash put into the library by neighbouring Lambeth Council will be implemented.

Nevertheless, Robert Gibson, co-chairman of the Upper Norwood Library Trust, set up to take over the running of the library, said: "I feel a lot better about the future funding than I have done for quite a while."

The trust was set up after Croydon Council pulled out of a joint funding agreement with Lambeth which had been in place for about 100 years.

Lambeth currently funds the library to the tune of about £180,000 a year, but after the breakdown the then Conservative administration in Croydon cut its contribution from a similar sum to £70,000 a year.

The result has seen redundancies and a reduction in library opening hours to just three days a week.

This week, Labour's cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, Councillor Timothy Godfrey, said the party had agreed it would match fund the library with Lambeth if it won last month's elections.

He said: "That principle remains."

But, as a new council, Cllr Godfrey said there would also be opportunities to look at the library's position in a fresh way.

He said: "We will be meeting shortly with Lambeth to see how we can support the library together.

"We must get it right and work constructively for the future, rather than have the wrangles of the past.

"We want to work with everyone to make things better for the people of Upper Norwood."

Cllr Godfrey said he was hopeful discussions could be completed and any new arrangements in place by October.

He made it plain it was not the council's intention to take back the running of the library and there would be support for the trust.

He did not, however, rule out the idea of restoring a joint body with Lambeth to decide on future financial support.

Mr Gibson said: "We are keen to push things forward.

"If we can get the extra money it would make a huge difference to the library and would mean we could look again at opening five days a week."

He added: "You can never be 100 per cent sure how things will work out but from my personal point of view this does feel like a very good news story.

"I think we are all on the same side."

Upper Norwood Library set for cash injection


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