Croydon Local Studies Library spared in arts cuts
The Local Studies Library has been saved from closure thanks to a Croydon Guardian campaign.
Croydon’s rich history will be preserved and available to future generations after more than 400 people signed our petition to save the borough’s proud heritage.
The Museum of Croydon has received a stay of execution, with the council entering talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to keep it open.
The HLF gave the authority a 25-year, £933,000 grant in 2005 to make improvements to the venue, which houses the historically important Riesco Collection, Chinese ceramics dating from 2,500BC to the 19th century. It was left to the council by local businessman Raymond Riesco.
However, if the council is unable to come to an agreement with the HLF to keep the museum open, it may have to repay a portion of the money.
Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the London region said:
"We understand that LB Croydon is in the process of reviewing its arts and heritage provision following public consultation, and significant cuts are anticipated to balance the council's overall budget.
"Despite these cuts, we are keen to ensure that HLF investment in the Museum of Croydon is protected for the public benefit. We are currently in discussion with the council to find a way forward so the museum can remain open to the public and continue to deliver this vital cultural service to the community."
The Local Studies Library is already operating on reduced opening hours.
The council is going to carry out a “value for money exercise” to decide how the archive section of the library will continue.
These extensive archives house Croydon’s priceless historic treasures. The library has more than 4,000 visitors and up to 2,000 remote enquiries a year.
However, Councillor Sara Bashford has pledged to keep the trained librarians working in the section and said the council would work to preserve the current opening times.
The cabinet member for culture, said: "I had very strong representation from the people that use the Local Studies Library.
"I felt we needed to try to retain that if we could. If we cut the service we would lose it forever."
Paul Sandford, chairman of the largest historical society in the borough, said: "On behalf of the Bourne Society I am delighted the Local Studies Library is to be retained with public access and trained staff and the museum is to continue with HLF assistance.
"We thank Coun Sara Bashford for conducting a fair and thorough consultation process, and for the support of other councillors in the Croydon cabinet."
Brian Roote, a local historian, said he was in the library when he heard the thrilling news.
He added: “I am relieved and very pleased the council seems to have taken people’s views into account and that Croydon’s heritage has not been discarded.”
Adrian Falks, a history enthusiast who uses the facility, said: “I am thrilled and relieved to hear it will remain open. It plays such an important part in giving people roots and an identity. The preservation of it is terrific.”
Steve Palmer, chairman, The Old Croydonians' Association said: "We're delighted that the Local Studies Library and its team are to continue provide their specialist services. Our thanks to The Croydon Guardian for organising the campaign."
Gwyneth Fookes, from the Bourne Society, said: "It is very sad that other services will be closed, but I – and others – do feel that the Local Studies Library is an essential service for the maintenance of Croydon’s records and thus the recording of its long, long history.
"The retention of trained librarians will maintain efficiency and competent – important - continuity.
"I am sure I don’t speak only for myself when I say we local historians have over the years received a first class service from the staff in the Local Studies Library and could not envisage life without them."