The Financial Crisis
In response to my posting about the issuing of the Section 114 notice, several Labour Council’s have thanked me for it being more balanced than much of the rest of the growing media coverage.
Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, and former Leader of Lambeth Council shares my view aboiut the Tory contribution up to 2014.
“Croydon council’s serious financial challenges have deep roots through a decade of austerity and administrations of different parties and have been greatly worsened by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”. (Guardian 13 November)
In her latest message on Your Croydon News (13 November), Hamida Ali, the new Leader writes:
‘The financial problems the council is facing have multiple causes and, while a decade of austerity, historic under-funding and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact on our finances, we’ve got to be honest that the council has also made mistakes.’ (Underlining in my emphasis.)
‘We’re not going to fix these problems overnight and there will be difficult decisions ahead, but I want to reassure local people that the council will still be here to support you.
My priority is rebuilding a financially-sustainable organisation, which provides the value for money and high-quality services that residents deserve and I am confident we will achieve that.’
The Tories are calling for Brick by Brick to be wound up rather than reformed as the Croydon TUC/Assembly 2018 local election manifesto called.
Although many Councils across the party political divide have also been investing in commercial property to obtain rental income, for a buying a hotel and a shopping centre. Last December it also bought for £14m the builders’ merchants Selco building in Imperial Way, Waddon, and medical supplies specialist Alliance Healthcare at Vulcan Way in New Addington – at a combined cost of £14 million.
In its critical Public Interest report the less than robust auditors Grant Thornton deemed the hotel and shopping centre investments as ‘inherently flawed’ and ‘ grounded in a sufficient understanding of the retail and leisure market and have again illustrated that the council’s strategy to invest its way out of financial challenge rather than pay attention to controlling expenditure on core services was inherently flawed.”
At least, as I have suggested in the past the Council is using the hotel for homeless families, so it is not a waste of money. It would be useful if the Council would publish the cost of running the hotel and the savings made by not having to pay landlords for families in live in high priced accommodation.
Among the actions still needed to redress public hostility is:
- to take Paul Scott, the arch defender of the Brick by Brick, off the Planning Committee and Sub-committee
- to withdraw from Brick by Brick the green spaces on which it plans to build housing schemes pushed by Scott.
- to announce that it will withdraw from taking part in future MIPIM events toadying up to the property developers, who have done Croydon non favours, having failing to meet the real housing needs of residents, not providing enough so called affordable housing and not providing enough funding for the infrastructure developments needed because of their schemes.
The Council had allowed reserves to drastically fall. Writing on a local government finance website Richard Harbord argues that:
‘In the case of reserves, it is the role of members to challenge their adequacy before approving the budget.’ Clearly they did not.
He also argues that:
- Councils need to show greater rigour in challenging budget assumptions, how savings are achieved and also the underlying affordability of the treasury management strategy.
- Cabinets and councils need to review their arrangements to govern their interests in subsidiaries. This is a key issue more generally, particularly during difficult financial times.
- Growth in the use of wholly and partly-owned companies has been considerable. There are obvious advantages, especially for raising finance from sources not available to council. Some councils have, however, encountered problems in achieving the correct routes and means to achieve governance of these entities.’
It now appears likely that some other London Boroughs may also become bankrupt as http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1360385/Sadiq-Khan-London-Mayor-Croydon-council-BBC-debt-bankrupt-latest-news-vnlocalgovernment faces a huge £1billion deficit
This reminds me of my time at Solon Housing Association. When the funding system changed we calculated that it could result in an unfundable debt. We took the decision to take the matter up with the Housing Corporation. It was hostile to us because of our worker collective structure and high proportion of tenants on the Management and Area Committees. We were vindicated in our analysis and steps had to be taken to ensure that London associations were not all adversely affected. So Croydon may been the first to act on its potential bankruptcy, but if others follow then it could be that the Government will have to respond in a non-punitive way.
Philp Voted Against Feeding Children In The Holidays
Croydon South MP Chris Philip voted against feeding the countries most vulnerable children.
NHS Still Needs Support In COVID Crisis
The NHS still need campaigning support during the COVID crisis. Please consider supporting the petition for a pay bonus at:
Some Trusts are upping the parking charges for NHS staff. It appears that Croydon University Hospital is not one of them, but King’s is.
Don’t Be Too Sad If Some Restaurants Etc Collapse
What is needed is good quality affordable restaurants, unlike the one that stored food under the sink!
Libraries Hit By Lockdown
From Thursday 5 November Croydon Libraries have had to suspend the limited browsing and pre-booked IT appointments. They continue to offer a Select and Collect service from Central, Ashburton, Bradmore Green, Coulsdon, New Addington, Purley, Selsdon, South Norwood and Thornton Heath Libraries.
Views on ‘AffordableHousing’
The London Mayor consulted on Intermediate Housing consultation. The summary of what people said about affordable housing schemes such as shared ownership and London Living Rent is as follows:
- Housing should be a major priority for local and central government
- Shared ownership doesn’t get to the root of London’s housing problem
- There should be more regulation in the rental/housing market
- London Living Rent needs to be affordable
- There needs to be transparency over long-term costs and risks for these affordable housing schemes
For full details see:
This is a report that the Council needs to consider as part of its Local Plan Review and when assessing applications for housing schemes with a shared ownership component.
The Mayor/GLA are continuing you toconsuton other planning issues:
- Good Quality Homes for
- All Londoners Public London Charter Circular Economy Statements
Justin Homes Consultation 155 Homes Scheme off Purley Way
Concerns are being raised about whether there is adequate infrastucture for this scheme. The Purley Way area was identified in the Local Plan Review process as a possible area for the building of a large number of homes, including in mixed developments, which could ease the pressure on other areas. The Council consulted on the idea. The outcome of the Local Review consultation has still to be published.
Former Purley Resident Worked at Bletchley Park
Mireille Completes Her PhD On Croydon’s Suffraggette Prisoner Katie Gliddon
The artist Mireille Fauchon reports that she has has successfully completed her PhD based on the diary of the Croydon suffragette prisoner Katie Gliddon.
‘Over years I made several iterative artworks encompassing print, collage and performance works. These creative interpretations described the story lines that developed as I explored the life writings left by the Croydon Suffragette Katie Gliddon. The archival met the anecdotal and Gliddon’s past became inextricably entwined with my present.’
The digital document can be accessed at:
Mireille recommends playing the audio file at the top of the page and scrolling down while listening.