John Laing Ltd has been named by Croydon Council as the secret bidder chosen to run the borough’s library services.
The council have offered the contract to John Laing Ltd following a meeting of the corporate services committee last week, which had to be moved after members of the public refused to leave the room for the decision-making process.
Paul Greenhalgh, the council’s executive director for children, families and learning, said in a statement: “This has been a detailed and carefully run selection process. There was complete consensus that John Laing Integrated Services offered Croydon the best mix of quality and price.”
Completion of the deal will mean that library services themselves will be taken over by the company, while the council will retain freehold over the buildings.
Greenhalgh’s comments come despite outspoken opposition from some council members against the privatisation of the library service and the closed manner in which the procurement process has been conducted.
Timothy Godfrey, shadow cabinet member for culture, sport and libraries, said: “The most worrying thing is the lack of detail in this plan. The culture of secrecy at the council is very worrying.”
Eastlondonlines reported last week that members of the public who attended the meeting found it “shocking” that the discussion to choose a preferred bidder took place in private.
John Laing has previously found itself at the centre of controversy in Croydon after a deal was signed in 2008 allowing the company to borrow money to develop land belonging to the council. The discussions surrounding this deal were also held in private.
Further details of the company’s proposal to run Croydon’s 13 libraries will be made available to the public in the next few weeks.