Over 100 residents of Broad Green attended the first of the council’s public meetings last Tuesday, part of a consultation on the future of six Croydon libraries, in a bid to save their local branch from closure.
Cllr Sara Bashford, cabinet member for customer services, culture and sport, answered local residents’ questions about the future of the library. Many believe the closure of Broad Green Library would seriously damage the area, which is already deprived, as the facility is especially useful to children and the unemployed.
Anne Pereira, senior library assistant at Broad Green Library, said: “We are in a poor area here, lots of people unemployed, lots of single parents, lot of people don’t have a lot of money, so having a library in this area is very important”.
Local resident Dorcass Elliott said: “It is not a just a library, this is a family resource. The library also plays an important role helping people to improve their English language skills, something really valuable for the large Tamil Community in the area.
“You would be taking away a vital resource for our education, you would be taking away the resources for the people whose English is not their first language.”
Also present at the meeting were Aileen Cahill, head of Croydon libraries, Cllr Humayun Kabir for West Thornton Ward, and Cllr Stuart Collins and Cllr Manju Shahul-Hameed for Broad Green.
Five other libraries in Croydon are being considered for closure, including Sanderstead, Norbury, Shirley, Bradmore Green and South Norwood. According to the council, the closure of all the six libraries would save £664,000 each year.
Local residents have launched campaigns against the closure of their branches. The Save Norbury Library campaign, which has its own Facebook group and button badges, is to march against the proposed closure on 12 February at 10am.
Cllr Sara Bashford said: “I am genuinely sad to be in a position where we have to look at these sorts of options. Our decision will be based partly on numbers, but as well in how the closures would affect the community”.
The consultation process will finish on 20 February.
South Norwood Library Public Meeting. Stanley Halls, South Norwood Hill. Thursday, 3 February, 7pm.
Sanderstead Library Public Meeting. Sanderstead United Reformed Church Hall, Sanderstead Hill. Wednesday 9 February, 7pm.
See also: Croydon libraries: who goes? you decide