Croydon Council is to terminate its relationship with troubled contractor Carillion and bring the running of its libraries back in-house.
Government services provider Carillion has gone into liquidation after losing money on big contracts and running up huge debts of around £1.5bn, according to the BBC. The collapse of the company has put thousands of jobs across multiple sectors at risk.
In 2013, the company took over the running of Croydon’s 13 libraries.
Now, Croydon Council has stepped in to "secure the long-term future" of all its libraries and "guarantee the jobs of library staff". Council officers will be working with libraries today (16th January) to ensure they remain open.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “The council has been considering its options over the past few months after it became clear that Carillion was running into difficulties. We are determined to protect and boost our libraries for residents now and for generations to come.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council, added: “The libraries were outsourced by the previous administration, which was something that we didn’t support. I am pleased that we’ve been able to take prompt action to secure the library service and the jobs of library staff. In the year we bid to become London Borough of Culture it is important to ensure libraries are at the heart of all our communities.”
From October 2013, Carillion ran several public library services including Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow. Hounslow terminated its contract with Carillion last August.
Shadow libraries minister Kevin Brennan, meanwhile, has called on the libraries minister to offer "urgent support" to the councils whose library services will be impacted by Carillion's collapse. He has also called for an investigation into the outsourcing of library services to other private companies.
"The collapse of Carillion has put countless jobs at risk across the country, including in the libraries sector", Brennan said. "Library services are crucial to our communities and hard-working staff deserve better."
He said that in 2016, over 400 libraries in England were commissioned libraries, meaning that they had been transferred to a separate trust or organisation, either a commercial or social enterprise. A number had been transferred to Carillion.
"I am calling on the Libraries Minister to work with ministerial colleagues across government to offer urgent support to local authorities whose library services are impacted by Carillion’s collapse," Brennan said. "He should also review how many commissioned library services have been outsourced to private commercial enterprises like Carillion and whether any are at risk.”
Former libraries minister John Glen was moved to the Treasury in Prime Minister Theresa May's reshuffle last week. It has still not been confirmed who will replace him.