I was recently challenged by a Labour Councillor about what she perceives as my continual criticism of the Council, that it would be nice if occasionally I congratulated it for what it does, and why I seem to imply I know better than anyone else.
Obviously she does not read everything I write so she has missed the many times I have done so. She is also confusing raising questions with criticism; forgetting that it is the job of Councillors to forensically question the reports that they are asked to approve.
I have never claimed to know better than anyone else. I simply want to encourage democratic debate, increase public influence on decision making, have proper questioning and scrutiny, and ensure that ‘community development’ and ‘citizens action’ are not just nice words but are integral to everything the Council does.
Its all very well the administration being ‘Ambitious’ but if it fails to carry the public with it, and alienates too many people, the ability achieve Ambition will end at the local elections in May 2018.
On Monday 11 July the Cabinet will receive a report on the delivery last year of the Corporate Plan. So what is it that can be supported, even if there are questions about details of implementation and consequences? I set out below the list of achievements set out in the report into three categories: supportable, questionable and not supportable.
- New tech business incubator and start-up space opened last month.
- ‘Croydon Works’ job brokerage service.
- 4% reduction in young people Not in Education, Employment or Training.
- Partnership with University of Sussex.
- Securing social enterprise borough status.
- Signed up 25,000 landlords to borough-wide selective licensing scheme.
- Best Start programme for pre-school children integrating key early intervention services.
- Reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions through shared community services.
- 0-25 disability service from April 2016 to provide a seamless transition for young people between children and adult services and stimulate a better local offer for young people to enjoy education, employment and a quality of life in Croydon.
- The Gateway and Welfare division tackling housing, welfare, debt management and social care assessment.
- Relaunch of local credit union (which I have joined).
- Raised awareness of domestic abuse, sexual violence and child sexual exploitation.
- Outcome Based Commissioning model for over 65s to integration of Health and Social Care.
- Reduction in crime through partnership working.
- Refurbished Monks Hill sports centre.
- Living Wage Employer accreditation.
- Requirement to pay the London Living Wage through the Council’s procurement and commissioning processes wherever possible.
- Digital inclusion strategy and programme.
- 9% reduction of the workforce on out of work benefits – until it is proved the people concerned have not slipped off the recording and are still out of work or are on no guaranteed hours contracts.
- Fairfield Halls and Croydon Council Youth Arts funding from to form a local Cultural Education Partnership – until see how this can work after the closure of the Halls on 15 July.
- 20 mile an hour zones – because not enforced.
- ‘Connected Croydon’ public realm improvements – because may be just cosmetic and have caused chaos on London Rd.
- Parks Transformation Programme – because while wanting partnership, with residents is imposing BMX Track in Norbury Park against large scale opposition.
- Hosted Croydon Tour Series Road Race in June 2015 – so what? There was also the annual Veteran Cars Rally to Brighton.
- Consultation on future of library service within current funding constraints – because outcome not yet published.
- New Community Strategy and statutory equality objectives – because only two week consultation period.
- A ‘balanced budget for 2015/16 against increasing demand and reduced resources’. i.e. through cuts forced by Government’s austerity agenda.
- Boxpark Croydon.
- Ambition Festival.
The report contains an Appendix of useful detailed progress on all the elements in the Local Plan and useful statistics.