Major cutbacks at Upper Norwood Library

Major cutbacks at Upper Norwood Library

Croydon's Upper Norwood Library is set to lose nearly a third of its workforce as its opening hours are cut in half.

The library, which is currently managed by Croydon but paid for jointly by Croydon and Lambeth authorities, will lose more than half of its £589,000 budget at the end of April, with a cut of £344,000.

Five of the library's 17 staff have had to take redundancy, while two more will have no regular hours contracted. From May, the library will transfer to Lambeth's control, with both authorities continuing to fund it. The library's opening hours will be cut, changing to 24 hours a week across three days a week, instead of 47 hours across five days.

A community group, the Upper Norwood Library Trust is hoping to take over the running of the library. Robert Gibson, co-chair of the group, told the Croydon Guardian: "This is the direct result of the savage cut in funding by Croydon Council and it is what we all feared and expected. The community fought very hard to stop the reduction in funding but obviously Croydon Council decided to go ahead with it. It is a tragic state of affairs."

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "Like every other publicly-funded body, Upper Norwood Library will need to operate with less resource, however we believe that a funding package of £285,000 is a solid foundation for the library to budget with.

"This will mean the need to be more efficient with a lower staffing ratio but we are confident that with the funding available and the proposed restructure it will be possible to run the library at or close to the current opening hours and we are encouraging Lambeth to make sure this happens."

There had been fears that the 100-year-old library would be closed altogether, with a campaign group forming to save the building. Its future was secured in February when the two authorities came to an arrangement over funding.