Campaign to save Bromley libraries from privatisation

Campaign to save Bromley libraries from privatisation moves into top gear

15 June 2017

Thousands of Bromley households will receive a booklet explaining why the borough’s 14 libraries should remain council-controlled and not hived off to a social enterprise with a ‘tarnished’ reputation.

Unite, the country’s largest union, will be delivering the booklets to homes as the Tory-controlled council considers comments between now and July made on the consultation over the proposal to award the contract for running the libraries to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).

Unite said that GLL has a ‘tarnished’ reputation when it comes to running libraries in the London boroughs of Greenwich and Lambeth.

For example, it closed the mobile library service in Greenwich, despite the fact that this service issued 33,000 books annually to children and in Lambeth there was controversy over plans to use library space for gym provision.

The union claims that two-thirds of GLL staff are on contracts which are ‘zero hour contracts in all but name’, even though its chief executive Mark Sesan pocketed a pay packet of £193,000 in 2015.

The union said that the council had already conducted two public consultation exercises in Bromley, including one which revealed that 83 per cent of those replying supported the library service being run directly by the council – and ignored the results on both occasions.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The Tories in Bromley seem hell-bent on privatisation of Bromley’s libraries to a firm with a deeply tarnished reputation, despite strong public opposition and the fact that the council has more than £300 million in reserves.

“We will start distributing the booklet – which contains the response we have already submitted to the council -  to streets in the wards of key Tory councillors next week.

“The consultation ended this week and councillors will be considering the comments between now and July, so this is a good time for people to read the booklet and then put pressure on their elected representatives.

“Council elections take place next year and the message is if you vote to privatise libraries, residents will not vote for you.

“Conservative councillors need to take note that only last week in what was ‘true blue’ Canterbury – just 45 miles away –  a Labour MP was elected for the first time ever.
“Voters are fed up with needless privatisation of public services across the UK for the benefit of shareholders and not the public. It is time for the citizens of Bromley to make their voice heard so that libraries can be kept within the public domain for the benefit of all.”

Download the booklet: Unite response to consultation on the commissioning of Bromley library service.  


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.