I popped into the Croydon Opportunity and Fairness Commission Open Day on Tuesday 1 September for almost an hour and a half. There was a mixed flow of people coming in and out able to talk to several of the Commissioners including the Chair Bishop Jonathan Clark, as well as staff of the support consultancy The Campaign Company. I was able to chat with David Evans, the Company’s Director, the Bishop and Commissioner Stella Fasusi.
The Commission plans to publish its interim report at the end of September, and seek views on the assessment it will make. It is obviously disappointing that more organisations and activists have not submitted views to the Commission. The submissions that have been made can all be seen on the Commission website.
The central issue for the Commission to grapple is growing inequality, which is being made worse by the combined effect of Government cuts, the steam roller of property development and the rise in private sector rents, made worse by the low level of social housing. The danger is that those in the bottom socio-economic quarter of Croydon’s residents will be driven out of the Borough to cheaper areas. There is also the problem of ensuring that Croydon can remain an important employment area, and that employment buildings are safeguarded and not turned into residential or demolished for residential. A compromise might be mixed residential/workspace for empty office buildings, but that will require some tough Council negotiations with the developers.
If you still have reservations about the Commission please re-read my pieces about it on Croydon Citizen:
Non-engagement by local organisations will mean its report may not adequately reflect the range of often conflicting assessments of what is happening in Croydon, and therefore not come up with recommendations that will help provide real solutions. There is also the big challenge of how to find out the views of those who do not attend meetings or follow affairs on the internet and social media. The Commission has run street stalls, but one idea worth exploring is to get to meet people where they come together in reasonably large numbers: churches, mosques and temples, and parents at schools.
More details about the Commission can be seen at http://www.opportunitycroydon.org