A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Potential closure of Shirley Library
10/01/2011 14:08:00


Croydon Council is currently undertaking a consultation on the future of six of the boroughs 12 branch libraries – Bradmore Green, Broad Green, Norbury, Sanderstead, Shirley and South Norwood.

I should start by saying that I am very sympathetic to the difficult position the Council finds itself in. Like other councils, it is going to see significant reductions in the amount of money it gets from central government over the next few years and, given the current economic climate, it would be wholly wrong for it to significantly increase Council Tax to make up for the shortfall. It therefore has no choice but to reduce its spending and/or increase charges.

The current Conservative administration has already done a lot to make the Council more efficient and I know it will continue to do so but, given the scale of the reductions required, some reductions in frontline services are inevitable. It is right that the Council looks at all areas of its spending and asks residents their views so I applaud it for carrying out this consultation.

However, I will be responding to the consultation to say that I oppose the closure of Shirley Library – the only one on the list in my constituency - for four reasons:

1. The library is the only Council facility in Shirley district centre - unlike other district centres, Shirley doesn’t have a leisure centre, adult learning centre or satellite council office. Given that Shirley residents contribute a higher than average share of the Council’s tax income, it would be wrong for the Council to close its one facility in the district centre.

2. The consultation paper suggests that Ashburton Library, based at the Oasis Academy Shirley Park, could provide a library service for Shirley residents. Whilst this isn’t far from some parts of Shirley eg Shirley Oaks village, it is a long way from say the Shrublands estate and parking provision is very poor.

3. The consultation paper admits that, unlike most of the other branch libraries that the Council is considering closing, usage of Shirley Library is increasing.

4. Of the six branch libraries that the Council is considering closing, Shirley is the second cheapest to run.

I would encourage you to respond directly to the consultation - and encourage your neighbours to do likewise - by emailing librariesconsult@croydon.gov.uk by 20th February.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 16/01/2011 22:35:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
Well, I'd rather they closed the David Lean theatre than any Libraries.

What's more important?

I was shocked to read in the local paper how much money the David Lean lost. Probably it's had its day and can't compete in the 3D era...but here's a question?

Have you ever tried to buy a ticket for the David Lean Cinema or simply check the listings to find what's on when? It's like trying to open a Chinese Puzzle Box...because no one actually seems to have the job at the Council of actually promoting the place.

You know people don't come to entertainment events by magic, you do actually have to advertise and at the very least put out listings as the bare minimum. Trying to find out what's on at the David Lean can be like trying to crack the enigma machine cipher sometimes.... in the end it's easier not to bother.

And I say that as someone who lives literally down the road.

It's a classic case of something that the private sector actually does better. No wonder its been losing so much money.

I mean it's okay when you get in there but who would know it's there in the first place? When it opened it was the only cinema in that part of Croydon so these things didn't matter as much. But now VUE is over the road it needs to up its game or die quietly and save us all money that could be spent on a library?

I'm afraid that's what happens in promotion - you have a gig and someone opens another one over the road. Nothing stands still.

Except, of course, the David Lean Cinema which carries on forever even though absolutely no one seems to put more than 5 minutes a week into promoting it. I mean what is the point of an entertainment event no one knows exists - someone tell me?

And the irony is that the Council must own loads of sites all over Croydon on which it could advertise its own Cinema for FREE but whenever I walk past an advertising hoarding owned by the Council in Croydon its single message seems to be how great Croydon Council is. Well, if it's so great how come you have to be Alan Turing to know what films they have on?

I know that's a bit off topic but it sort of isn't as the question is how can the council save money? And my answer is by not promoting so many invisible events.

On 15/03/2011 07:29:00 Adrian Winchester wrote:
In response to Mr Miller's comments, I agree the marketing of the David Lean Cinema has been poor. There used to be a good monthly brochure specifically on the cinema, which was replaced by a basic list of film titles! The website is astonishingly bad and makes you scroll through about 8 pages just to find out all the films coming up. The online booking is by far the worst I've seen for any venue, taking you to a confusing external site that only has access to some of the tickets. I could never be bothered with it and I expect others used to straightforward booking elsewhere would feel the same.

But despite this, the cinema has been a wonderful asset to Croydon, providing films not screened elsewhere in pleasant, comfortable surroundings. It's much loved by those who go there, many of which are older people who would not feel at home in most cinemas. The poor marketing is no reason to close it permanently. If the Council can't afford to keep it open in current difficult times, fair enough, but why not leave it in place with a view to re-opening it when things improve. It doesn't take up much room, so why strip it out and deny people who live or work in Croydon such a great facility permanently? I would have volunteered to help keep it going, if there had been scope to do so, just as I did with my local library!

On 21/07/2011 16:07:00 Alison Campbell wrote:
Thanks to the financial mess that the Labour Government left us in, we now have to face these cuts. I therefore utterly condemn the closure.



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