Croydon’s local studies library and archives service have been saved from dramatic cuts after a council U-turn on funding.
Proposals made late last year to reduce the library’s annual budget by £105,000 to create a “statutory minimum” service caused anger among some observers.
Paul Sowan of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society, a leading opponent of the cutbacks, welcomed the change of plans: “The council has made the right decision. I just hope that Croydon will see it as an investment in the future and we don’t have to go through this again.”
The archive houses deeds, hospital records and writings by local historians, among other items. Some of its historical artefacts date back to the 13th century.
The council intends to move the service from the third floor of the Central Library on Katharine Street to a larger and currently vacant exhibition gallery on the ground floor later this year.
The move will save seven full time jobs in the arts and heritage section of the central library, according to the local authority.
Currently, the archives library is only open three days per week due to staffing shortages, but after the relocation it will open from Monday to Saturday.
Councillor Tim Pollard, chair of the Corporate Services Committee, who initially warned there was no area of council expenditure exempt from savings, met with archives library staff to find a solution.
He said: “I am really delighted that the proposal I am putting forward will actually improve overall levels of access to the borough’s archives and to our significant art collection.’’
The library’s collection of about 2,500 artworks by local and international artists will be available to the public after several years in storage.
By Courtney Greatrex and Kate Kozlova