Croydon Council criticised after libraries operator is bought out within weeks
Croydon Council has come under criticism after the contractor hired to run Croydon’s libraries was bought out by another firm just weeks after taking control.
John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), which began an eight-year contract to run the borough's 13 libraries three weeks ago, was taken over by facilities management company Carillion.
It is understood members of staff at the libraries were not informed of the sale and only realised a change had taken place after they noticed their emails had changed last weekend.
There is also confusion as to how the handover with Carillion will take place, with employees being told that previous arrangements with JLIS such as child credits are now suspended until further notice.
John Laing took charge of Croydon’s library service on October 1, with employees given new uniforms and training as a new system was introduced.
The company was chosen as the preferred bidder in May and signed a contract in July after a long tendering process which saw bidders such as GLL, well known for running library services, rejected by the council.
Adrian Ewer, chief executive of John Laing, said running libraries no longer fitted the company’s core strategy.
The Unite union’s regional representative Onay Kasab said the situation highlighted why services should not be outsourced by the council.
He said: "From our point of view this is exactly what happens when you outsource services. There is a lack of stability for staff and service users.
"What we want is the library services to be brought back in house. I am meeting with union reps this week to see what the concerns are of the staff."
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Labour’s shadow cabinet member for culture, also criticised the council on their choice to outsource the library services.
He said Labour are still pledging to rip up the Library services contract should they take control of the council next year.
Coun Godfrey said: "This does not cover the council in glory.
"We are now in a situation where staff and the council do not know how they will be delivering a library service."
A council spokesman said it had put a number of detailed questions to the senior officers at JLIS and Carillion about the nature of the sale and its implications and also received a letter of reassurance from Carillion the business will continue as usual.
A spokesman from Carillion said they are undertaking an operational review to gain an understanding of the library service and it will ensure all staff are kept fully informed of any future developments.
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