Campaigners in Croydon are fighting to save the borough's libraries from closing after the declaration of a Section 114 notice and "effective" bankruptcy from the council has placed them under serious threat.

Community organisers with Croydon Communities Consortium (CCC) scheduled an online meeting for Wednesday (December 16) with the aim of addressing what was described as widespread anger from many residents at the jeopardy the council's financial situation had placed the libraries in.

Concerns escalated after the cabinet member for leisure, Councillor Oliver Lewis, suggested the future of council funding for libraries would be looked at as part of a public consultation on how to make the daunting savings now being forced upon the council after the Section 114 declaration.

"The following factors have been taken into account in our decision making. Things like footfall, book issues, PC sessions, geography, cost of repairs and maintenance.

"On that basis we will be going out on consultation on the closure or alternative cost neutral models of operation of five libraries," he said.

A community organiser told the Croydon Guardian of a rising anger among those who rely on the public libraries in the borough.

"Since the proposed cuts were announced there has been a lot of anger," the CCC's Elizabeth Ash, who will chair the meeting, said. 

"The council say that they are consulting' at the moment on the cuts to funding before the consultation on libraries has opened in January," she said, referencing the general online consultation launched by the council on December 9. 

As the Croydon and Sutton Guardian previously reported, the council suggested Broad Green, Bradmore Green, Sanderstead, Shirley and South Norwood libraries could all be lost in response to the financial situation.

Your Local Guardian: Image via Friends of South Norwood LibraryImage via Friends of South Norwood Library

Councillors hope to close a £67 million gap in the budget exposed by the Section 114 declaration.

Yet recent protests in favour of South Norwood library and Wednesday's meeting highlight the wish of many residents to make sure that is not done on the backs of libraries.

"Libraries are absolutely vital to the community," Elizabeth said. "The council uses them to consult with residents and get information, but they deliver on so many fronts. Education and places to study for children, for vulnerable people, for the elderly, people who need to do job searches, for leisure and wellbeing.

"They are jammed with kids who need study space. It is a false economy to cut libraries because they deliver on so many fronts," she added.

"I think the momentum to save our libraries is growing. That's part of what Wednesday's meeting is about, coordinating the individual ones for example in South Norwood.

"I think people are really angry about proposed cuts in general. At CCC we want to bring communities together and I'm sure we'll be having other meetings on this," Elizabeth said.