Croydon Council’s Cabinet will be rubber-stamping several papers including:
- New Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022 for consultation. The paper usefully summarises the Mayor of London’s new proposals and how Croydon might benefit.
- Delivering Across the Borough. This is an important information report summarising the Council’s initiatives and partnerships in various district centres of the Borough and in Surrey Market.
- The misnamed Investing in Our Borough standard agenda item detailing the latest contracts being awarded. See below re- Social Value.
- The responses to the latest recommendations from Scrutiny & Oversight
District Centres Action
The Delivering Across the Borough paper states:
- ‘By 2020 Croydon aims to be south London’s prime commercial centre, the most exciting shopping and leisure destination in London and the southeast. It should be a place where all our residents will be happy to live and where business, art and culture thrive. (Para 3.1)
- ‘Each part of our borough has its own unique character, defined by its geography, history, local community and culture. Therefore, the interventions currently being delivered are diverse and targeted at specific local needs. They cannot all be covered in this document, so this report aims to provide a flavour of the approach taken, by providing some examples being delivered in some of our priority areas for regeneration. ‘ (para 3.5)
The summaries relate to New Addington/Fieldway, Addiscombe/Ashburton, South Norwood, Thornton Heath, Purley, Coulsdon, Norbury and Surrey St.
What has happened to Social Value?
The Investing in Our Borough report lists the following contracts that have been approved:
Smoking Cessation extension. £80,000 for six month extension
Thornton Heath High Street Improvements Programme – Building Fronts Project. £454,740
Managing Demand: Support to redesign of Back Office (Internal Support) Services. £478,800
Children Education Management System – EMS (extension). £275,000
Housing Open Management System – OHMS (extension). £195,005
Children’s Social Care System – CRS (extension). £111,000
First Base Lodging & Supported Lodging Schemes. £228,667
Generic Floating Housing Support. £255,396
Award of Contracts for New Addington Leisure Centre & Housing Redevelopment. £24.76m
Apart from a separate report on the New Addington leisure Centre contract there is no detail about the other contracts in the public paper. While there is discussion of human resources, equality, environmental, crime and social disorder impacts, there is no discussion on the application of the Council’s Social Value criteria, and how these contracts meet the Social Value criteria.
Rejection of Some Scrutiny Recommendations
I have been critical of the shallow way in which the Scrutiny Committee operates. Even when it is robuster than usual it cannot require the Cabinet to approve its recommendations. So we find at Monday’s Cabinet meeting that a number of recommendations are proposed for rejection. However, it is to the credit of Cllr Stuart Collins that he has accepted all the Committee’s recommendations on waste and recycling issues, showing him yet again to be the only Cabinet member that really engages with the issues, listens, and is open to new ideas.
- Grounds Maintenance Contract
It wanted ‘to participate in pre-decision discussions on the re-commissioning of contracts relating to leisure services and grounds maintenance, specifically with regard to the outcomes to be delivered by new contracts’
The response is to reject in part. ‘Due to timescales, it will not be possible to fully participate in pre-discussions. However, Officers and the Cabinet Member will liaise with Chair of Scrutiny to ensure the Committee are fully briefed.’
Of course as it is several months since the recommendation was made it could have been involved.
- Gypsies and Travellers
Several of the recommendations regarding gypsies and travellers in relation to provision of help from the Gateway service, the use of special police powers in relation to any pan-borough transit site, to renovate the Lathams Way site, agreement for negotiated stopping places and social contracts, engagement with traveller family groups, the provision of Biffa bins, waste services and portaloos at unauthorised encampments and negotiated stopping places to help reduce waste and clean-up costs, and action on schools admission.
The report explains that there is a need for this site and the proposed Purley Oaks Depot site in the Local Plan. The reason for the rejection does not make sense. The rejection response says that the GT community was consulted in the assessment of accommodation need. The bins etc proposal is mainly rejected on financial grounds with no explanation of how much they might cost and what the cost already is in terms of clearing up sites.
The Committee in particular wants to see ‘targeted work to prevent late applications, provide support for online applications and to take into account ‘home to school’ distance during the school admissions process in order to help drive up attendance at school.’ The rejection is based on ‘insufficient resources available for specifically targeted work.’