Croydon’s appetite for self-destruction
My latest piece on Croydon Citizen discusses the hostile personal nature of debate on social media about Croydon Communities Consortium and why this is destructive tendency is harmful for community networking, and for community activists being taken seriously. http://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/croydons-appetite-self-destruction
Better Deal on Taberner House Redevelopment Emerges
It looks like the latest proposals for the redevelopment of the Taberner House site have a number of positive features:
- Withdrawal of scheme from partnership with J. Laing in CCURV
- Sale of freehold to Council’s new Development Company
- Increase in ‘affordable’ homes from 15% to 30%
- Increase of green space on Queen’s Gardens
These changes will be considered by the Cabinet on Monday 13 July. If approved a fresh planning application will be required. The paper can be accessed at https://secure.croydon.gov.uk/akscroydon/users/public/admin/kabmenu.pl?cmte=CAB The Council’s announcement is at http://news.croydon.gov.uk/new-council-development-company-to-deliver-taberner-house-scheme
Council under pressure re-potential overspending 2015/16
For a variety of reason, many outside its control, the Council is heading for an overspend on 2015/16 of £6.421m, potentially reduced to £3.931m by £1m of contingency monies held, and £1.5m of grant income in relation to business rates not budgeted for. The Cabinet is being informed of this on Monday 13 July as proposed savings are not likely to be achievable. In due course The Cabinet will have to deal with the possibility of making cuts of at least £17.861m (2016/17) and £50.826m over the period 2016/19. This forecast may be worse depending on further cuts to local authority spending in the Government’s Emergency Budget announcements on 8 July.
What effect on job creation is Croydon’s massive capital underspend?
The Council has a massive capital programme underspend slippage of n.£73m from 2014/15. £50.38m relates mainly to schools; while corporate property maintenance is £7.68m and £6.23m is on public realm works. The Cabinet will review the figures at its meeting on Monday 13 July. The original budget for this year 2015/16 was £156.12m. By changes in programme scheduling only an extra £0.06m will spent. A key question is what effect is this having on job creation and apprenticeship provision?
Croydon 2015 Annual Public Health Report focuses on geographical health inequalities
This year’s annual public health report focusses on geographic inequalities. The topics have been selected using a life course approach, as both positive and negative influences on health accumulate from conception onwards. The topics looked at are child immunisation, child poverty, smoking, alcohol and drugs, healthy weight, diabetes, employment, homelessness and overcrowding, and older people. Acting to reduce health inequalities is made difficult by:
- the Government reducing the Public Health budget
- ‘A focus on reducing inequalities may divert attention from other key public health goals such as protecting the population from environmental hazards and delivering high quality universal preventative services. This will be mitigated through the development of public health aspects of the Corporate Plan 201518, and the oversight of the Health and Wellbeing Board’.
Having made representations on the 2014 Annual Report that there was a need for cross Borough inequalities analysis, I welcome this report. My discussion on the issues can be seen in my evidence on the geography of inequalities and ion the 2014 report to the Commission accessible at http://www.opportunitycroydon.org/evidence-and-submissions
Paucity of evidence to the Opportunity & Fairness Commission
The low level of engagement through submitting evidence or suggestions to the Croydon Opportunity & Fairness Commission is disappointing. Virtually none of the several hundred community and voluntary organisations operating in the Borough have submitted views. Croydon Voluntary Action discusses asset based community development, voluntary and community organisations (working in partnership) and volunteering. There are several short notes from individual residents expressing their deep frustration over the state of the high streets, etc, while others highlight positive aspects of the Borough. All submitted views and evidence can be accessed at http://www.opportunitycroydon.org/evidence-and-submissions
Appeal for Town Centre youth facility
In a short note of written comment to the Opportunity and Fairness Committee Pete Stanley of Ment4 youth work agency points out that ‘Millions are being spent on Westfield and Boxpark, etc., but the people at the Croydon Food Festival who were answering questions about the development told me that there is not one single unit put aside as a social centre for people to go and chat or meet up. Croydon really must put young people and families at the centre of their building development plans. This is the historic basis for community and there is a great danger that more young people will be forced to simply window shop or get into trouble because there is nothing for them to do that doesn’t cost money. Croydon town centre needs a heart. Please will someone stress this. I run Ment4, a mentoring agency for trouble youth and I would love a retail unit provided for us to help young people who need to sit and chat or have a soft drink while they write CVs or meet other support agencies. There are quite a lot of agencies in the third sector that would value premises in the town centre and who can help to reduce youth crime.’
Croydon Black History Month
The Council has announced that the theme of this October’s Black History Month will be ‘Women in Leadership’. It is appealing for organisations to start planning their events. ‘If you would like your event/s to be promoted by the council, for example through our website (which will go live nearer the time) and in our literature, you will need to email the details by Friday 14th August to: firstname.lastname@example.org.’ Further information is available from Tania Robinson on: email@example.com.
St George’s Walk three day stall events
August will see the start of a three day week market of stalls selling high-quality art work, vintage clothes and artisan food in St George’s Walk on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Art-artisan-market-revamp-St-George-s-Walk/story-26820099-detail/story.html#ixzz3f3XtXZ5H
Hammerson News Hammerson, the developer of the Leeds Victoria Gate scheme, is partnering with the City Council to sponsor a Digital High Street Skills programme designed to help small businesses develop their Internet knowledge and launch their businesses online.https://bdaily.co.uk/technology/01-07-2015/hammerson-and-leeds-city-council-launch-digital-high-street-skills-programme
Wandsworth takes action to protect 121 pubs and bars
Wandsworth Council is in the process of adopting Article 4 Directions to help preserve 121 Wandsworth pubs and bars which have architectural and community merit. Under ‘permitted development rights’, pub owners do not always need planning permission to demolish a pub or change its use. Article 4 Directions remove permitted development rights, giving Council planners a chance to decide whether or not to allow the changes. This means owners will need to apply for permission before knocking them down or changing them into something else such as a supermarket or estate agent. The final decision will be taken by the end of July, pub owners notified and given the right to respond. It is hoped that the scheme will start in September next year. I drew attention to Wandsworth’s quest to protect pubs and what Croydon could do in my Croydon Citizen posting . We await action by Croydon.
Who has influence in Croydon?
Back in February Ahzaz Chowdury discussed why his partnership firm The Nudge Factory remains based in Croydon: http://thecroydoncitizen.com/economics-business/kept-business-ll The Factory is working with Croydon Partnership and Inspired Homes. The latter has developed the flats at Green Dragon, Surrey, Canius and Coombe Houses in the Town Centre. http://inspiredhomes.uk.com/%20w Chowdury’s partner Paul Scully was elected as Conservative MP in the General Election for Sutton and Cheam. http://www.nudgefactory.co.uk