Croydon to seize control of libraries from Carillion

South Norwood Library. Pic: Pafcool2

Libraries in Croydon will be brought back under the control of the council following the collapse of Carillion, the construction and outsourcing firm with scores of public sector contracts.

All 13 of the libraries in the borough have been run by Carillion since 2012. The council say they will terminate their contract immediately and ensure that all 73 members of staff are paid by the council or the government insolvency service.

Labour councillor Timothy Godfrey told ELL Carillion had been failing to pay suppliers for library resources such as photocopying and paper.

The shortages led to individual library staff spending their own money on craft materials for children’s activities in Croydon’s libraries.  “The frontline staff have been doing a great job. They’ve really kept things going,” Godfrey said.

Following reports of unpaid bills by Carillion, the council began to draw up “contingency plans” last summer to take the libraries back under the management of the local authority.

When Croydon takes over the running of the libraries, there will be “improved management and better integration with other council activities,” according to Godfrey.

All members of staff will be paid at least the London Living Wage under the council’s management, Godfrey said. Under Carillion’s management, he said there are a “handful” of library staff who are currently paid less than the £10.20 hourly rate.

The outsourcing of the council’s library services to Carillion sparked controversy in 2013, when the company was at the centre of a scandal after it blacklisted construction workers who were members of trade unions.

Councillor Timothy Godfrey said Carillion’s “light touch management” meant that local residents were not getting the best out of their libraries.

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