As we start to see our high streets come back to life, we are also preparing to reopen some more of our council services and buildings.
I know how important our libraries service is to you and throughout lockdown, we have kept our service running even while the buildings have been closed to protect the public and our staff.
The digital collections have been a lifeline for many, with 1,000 residents signing up for free membership to enjoy access.
And thanks to our wonderful libraries staff, many of the activities have been available online, including live streams for children and families.
But libraries are for everyone, including those without digital access and so we will be reopening five of our library buildings from 20 July, so that you can reserve books by phone as well as online and collect them. You can find out more about how this will work here. We plan to open more libraries for browsing at a later date.
Your safety remains our top priority so we’re going to have to do things a little differently – and this will apply to all the services we hope to reopen in the coming weeks. All our decisions will be based on the advice of our director of public health, and we’ll be keeping our webpages and other channels regularly updated with information about services reopening, and any new ways of working you need to be aware of.
You can do your bit by checking for any new guidelines before you leave home and if you haven’t already, please do sign up for our weekly ebulletin to stay up-to-date.
Arts and culture
As a council we are proud of our reputation as a borough that values and nurtures the arts, from developing as Croydon Music City to being chosen as one of the Mayor’s five Creative Enterprise Zones, and of course winning London Borough of Culture 2023 earlier this year.
We have been, and still are, acutely aware of the devastating impact of this pandemic on the arts sector across the country, and locally we have taken action to support our own cultural groups during this very difficult time.
Through our Culture Relief Fund, we have provided emergency funding to a huge range of Croydon’s cultural organisations to support their programming during the pandemic and also to help those at risk, to survive.
From Talawa’s Tales from the Frontline, to LMP’s live streams which have attracted tens of thousands, we are proud to support the different ways our creative groups have responded and shown their resilience in these challenging times, helping our community tell their stories and participate in the arts.
We have also been talking to our operators BH Live about how our arts centre, Fairfield Halls, can continue to be a resource for our cultural community until the building can welcome back audiences once again.
We will be making the space available to arts organisations including the Agudo Dance Company for rehearsals and our amazing orchestra-in-residence, LMP, have plans to live-stream from the Concert Hall. We are proud to have incredible theatre companies-in-residence Talawa, SAVVY and Zoo Co and we hope they will be able to use the space during this time.
So even while the doors are closed, Fairfield Halls will remain at the heart of our creative community until it is safe to open to the public once again.
We continue to build on our work to encourage greener methods of travel such as walking and cycling, with plans for 10 more School Streets schemes approved this week taking our total to 21 from September. Like our Streetspaces, these initiatives make it easier for people to walk and cycle in the streets around our schools, keeping our air cleaner and helping children to travel to school safely. You can find out more here.
I would like to take the opportunity to welcome our new Mayor of Croydon. Councillor Maddie Henson took up the mantle at our first virtual mayor-making last week, along with Deputy Mayor Councillor Sherwan Chowdhury. Together they will make a great team and do an excellent job of representing our community. Thank you also to Councillor Humayun Kabir for all he has done in the last year, supporting a huge range of community groups and causes.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you once again to all of you. As Croydon continues to gradually reopen – our high streets, our public services, our sports facilities in parks and green spaces – we have seen so much co-operation and care from our community. Croydon continues to come together and support each other, and this is making a real difference to everyone.
Thank you to everyone still working at the heart of this pandemic – in our care homes, in our hospitals, in frontline council roles – and also to those in the shops, pubs and other businesses who have worked so hard to reopen as safely as possible. We are all behind you, and will continue to give you all our support.
Have a good weekend,
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council