The Croydon Climate Change Commission held its 2nd virtual meeting on 28 July. Those taking part were mainly the Councillors and institutional members (Croydon College, Coast to Coast Local Economic Partnership and LSE), and four people from business and the community: Esther Sutton (Oval Tavern), Silva Sanchez (Croydon Citizen’s Assembly), Russell Smith (Retrofit Works) and Ian Morris (CVA). Key people including Peter Underwood (Friends of the Earth), and Martin Graham (CTUC) were unable to take part.
As well as a presentation about the Leeds Climate Change Commission, the meeting was joined for part of its proceedings by people involved with the Croydon Living Streets group to discuss their Green Recovery Plan for Croydon, and by Stephen Tate, Director for Growth, Employment and Regeneration, on the Council’s COVID Recovery Plan. The following text is from the draft minutes.
Croydon Living Streets Green
Recovery Plan for Croydon
The presentation noted:
The plan identifies green routes from the town centre want to create active transport routes north. The aim is to support economic recovery, community organisations and improve access to local high streets. It is built on principles around: Community, Environment and Transport. The designs include ways to encourage cycling and walking and include traffic calming where side roads join up with main roads and planting more trees. The first step identified is to establish demonstration streets. The plan also recommends the creation of pocket parks. Croydon Living Streets are keen to work with the Commission to use their network to help the Commission reach a wider range of people and also for the Commission’s support in delivering the plan.
Through questions the following points were made:
- The green corridors identified could have a range of benefits including sustainable transport, improving the street scape and increasing biodiversity. Croydon Living Streets are keen to see more tree planting, as in other areas such as Waltham Forest.
- Identifying demonstrator routes will be key and it will be good to build on some of what has been done recently. More has been achieved that could have been a year ago, but more to do. Importance of protected cycle routes and signposting to other routes to get from A-B was raised.
- The important of identifying routes for children to get to school safely was raised, especially if they can’t use public transport.
- Croydon Living Streets held a big event in January at the start of the process. Their representatives from different community groups have discussed the plan in their networks and feedback received has been positive.
- Croydon College’s focus is the safety of student and teachers. There are challenges around storage of bikes, the cost of bikes and cycling proficiency in addition to the cycle routes that need to be considered.
The Chair concluded that there was a positive reaction to the plan from the group. The plan could be considered alongside the suite of recommendations the working groups are looking at to understand how they interact and are prioritised. The Commission would like to accept Croydon Living Street’s support on public engagement. Details of the recovery plan could be looked at through the working groups representatives of Croydon Living Streets are on (Housing, Planning and Built Environment, Transport and Energy and Awareness, Engagement and Communication).
Comment. Croydon Living Streets did not appear to consult with the residents and other groups along London Rd through Norbury, either individually or through the Council led Norbury Regeneration Steering Group. Its emphasis on community therefore has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nor did it seem to be linked to the separate London Rd project commissioned by the Council, which also went about consulting local groups in a haphazard way and then because of COVID had to develop an on-line ideas and survey approach.
The Thornton Heath Chronicle discusses the Green Plan for the London Road at
Croydon Council – Recovery Planning
The following notes were made from Stephen Tate’s presentation, The presentation noted:
- The Council’s initial focus was on people and health. The focus is now switching to the economy and jobs. Some impacts are known now but some will take time to emerge, so a flexible approach is needed.
- Recovery approach will also think about opportunities building on Croydon’s strengths, including the changes to behaviour since lockdown, location and a relatively young population.
- 44,000 people in the borough have been furloughed. This is 18% of the working age population, a similar level to London as a whole.
- Unemployment is expected to reach 14%, 4 percentage points above London. Existing inequalities play a big role with those under 25 on low wages/low skilled, women, from disadvantaged backgrounds most likely to be affected.
- A couple of announcements of big developments were made during lockdown and some construction projects have continued. Some major planning applications are not coming through.
- Impacts on housing are not yet clear. The Council is in a strong position for affordable housing and in good position to take advantage of any government policies.
- Partnerships and collaboration has been key to the Council’s approach to managing the crisis. The Council has been working to support people, businesses, contractors and the communities in various ways, including through the Croydon works employment scheme and low traffic initiatives. It is also considering how to maximise the green aspects of Government’s announcements.
The Council has established a Sustainable Economic Renewal Board to foster and support an economic renewal that will result in a more equal, inclusive and environmentally sustainable local economy for Croydon. The board is establishing a number of task and finish groups and there is good overlap with the working groups of the Croydon Commission.
Through questions the following points were made:
- Council sees part of the role of the Commission to help weave sustainability through Council workstreams and decision making processes. Sustainability is key to the recovery plan the Council is working on and they are considering things like the 15 minutes city and embedding behaviour change.
- The Recovery Board’s task and finish groups are looking at how to do this well and are considering how to encourage people to buy local and stay local, for example. The Leader and Cabinet are keen to do more of this as well.
- There is a strong sense of the need to integrate the economic recovery on economic with tackling climate change.
- This includes considering the creation of jobs in green sectors to replace those lost. Officers in the Commission’s working groups are the same as those in recovery plans/task and finish group to help with alignment.
Reflections to take to working groups
The following points were made in discussion:
- The presentations highlighted even more that this is very complicated. There is a challenge for the Commission to agree how to join it all up and bring it all together.
- Could the Commission develop a roadmap to includes the aims and recommendations?
- There is an action to translate the agreed Terms of Reference into something accessible to the wider public.
- There is a need to agree meaningful targets.
- It is notable that this Commission chose to have a focus on engagement and a working group to think about this (and consider points 3 and 4).
- The baseline will be important and it should be clear what it includes, including consumption based emissions. Can consumption be considered more explicitly in the working groups. The working groups are not a ridged structure and can make the space if required.
- Does the Council have a stakeholder map for Croydon that would support the public engagement?
The Chair summarised that the key themes from the presentations and discussion were:
- Being focussed is very important. There is a need to maintain ambition and scale but also need to think about where the Commission can have maximum bang for its buck.
- The metrics for success for the Commission and for the recommended plan, including emissions, will be critical
- Engagement is critical and there is a need to consider how do to get that right and who is pulled in both now and into the future. This is something for the Awareness, Engagement and Communication working group to consider.
- We can’t escape the scale of the economic challenge to do what we want to do. Sustainability is critical and needs to be done in a way to help people through the economic challenges.
The next meeting
End September/early October – focus on bringing things together. There will be an overview of what’s emerging from the working groups and consideration of trade-offs between them to inform the honing and refining that will be required.
Commission’s Energy and Transport Working Group
This working group met recently comprising about half and half community reps and council staff. Some members are engineers with extensive practical knowledge of energy or transport. Dr Jay Ginn, a member, tells me that the plan is for them to come back in 2 weeks with ‘creative ideas’ for recommendations on energy and transport. i.e. to start with proposals for radical changes, but being aware that in successive stages some of these will be modified for feasibility. The aim is for a set of 10-12 recommendations to council that have been fully discussed and worked on in detail as practical proposals by December. These might include ways to enable and encourage car-free journeys for most Croydon school children, details depending on their age and location, and solar panels on all public buildings.
If you have any thoughts then email them to me and I will pass them on to Dr Ginn.