Croydon Review at 4 December

The Cabinet plans to axe more than 50 staff in a bid to balance its budget on Monday evening. The trade unions and voluntary sector activists will be demonstrating outside the Town Hall. Unite the Union, Unison & GMB will be outside Croydon Town Hall from there from 5pm, demonstrating & lobbying against the proposed £38 million cuts to jobs and services. ‘Please come along and help us send a clear signal to Croydon Council and the Tory Government that these cuts are unacceptable.’

Effects of Cuts on CVS

Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, will have to try and justify the cuts and their effect on the community and voluntary sector when she takes part in the Community & Voluntary Sector Alliance Zoom meeting on Thursday 9 December (10am-noon). To book go to

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/croydon-voluntary-sector-alliance-cvsa-meeting-tickets-198118707387

Local Plan and Borough of Culture Consultations

The Cabinet will also approve the Local Plan Review documents. The six-week Local Plan Review consultation will start in January says Oliver Lewis, the relevant Cabinet member on the Council’s Your Croydon news webpages. This is a relief as time does not have to be spent over the Xmas period analysing the documents.

Other forms of tokenistic consultation continue, such as the 3rd January deadline for cultural organisations to indicate their plans for 2023, designed to help the team ‘gauge interest at this stage to help define the criteria for allocating funding, and feedback and feedback on the London Borough of Culture development plans. See www.getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk/lboc-culture-network

Issues In The Mayoral Contest

As the Cabinet member responsible for the cuts budget Callton Young will damage his attempt to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Mayor in May. Many may argue that the Leadership has no option in order to have the loan sanction support of the Government. It failed to develop an alternative campaigning plan. Whether Young or Val Shawcross are selected they will need to develop a plan (see some ideas below).

On Tuesday 7 December at a meeting led by Jason Perry their Mayoral candidate the Tories will try to capture some Residents Associations’ activists again, as they did with the elected Mayor campaign initiated by Chris Philp at one of the Tory planning meetings with the RAs. RAs are of course non-party political organisations and their leaders need to be careful about being seen to be party politically orientated which may alienate some of their members.

Whether it is Val Shawcross or Callton Young who is selected as Labour’s Mayor candidates, they will need to organise a series of meetings with RAs and community and voluntary groups to find out what their concerns about the future are and what they want the Mayor to try and do. They should also try and attend the CVA run Locality Partnership meetings.

Climate Change Action In Croydon

To coincide with COP26 in Glasgow Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones ‘held a Croydon Climate Forum at the Town Hall. We talked about the necessity to think global but act local. There are some amazing people in Croydon doing amazing things, trying to make the small changes and the small projects that all contribute to the meaningful change that we need to save the planet from climate catastrophe. We heard from the Eco Council at Oasis Rylands School, local community action groups such as Croydon Climate Action, local teacher and climate champion Amy Foster, Cllr Muhammad Ali and others. I want to build on the projects that people are already engaged in and take advantage of the excitement stemming from COP to help make Croydon a place where people can walk and cycle and enjoy our green spaces which we are so lucky to have here.’

Comment: Although there are a committed and growing number of climate change activists in Croydon the main concerns residents appear to have increasingly centre around litter, fly-tipping, failures in waste and garden collections, competition in parking, the growing neglect of parks and open spaces. Community activism is very fragmented and there is no sign yet that those who joined the COVID 19 Mutual Aid Groups are becoming active in existing community groups. The latter are also experiencing a reduction in activists due to age, ill-health, family care responsibilities. Added to this is the weariness resulting from the apparent inability to influence an increasingly incompetent Council. Most residents appear to be concentrating on dealing with the complexity of their daily lives, particularly those experiencing problems with fuel and water bills, rising prices, etc. They may not be open to community activism around the doomsday scenario of climate change. Environmental and climate change activists perhaps need to consider how they package together a whole range of concerns starting with those that immediately effect people: from the street environmental issues, to the damaging effects of planning decisions, the need to ensure protection of parks and open spaces, and in Croydon’s case the forthcoming Local Plan Review and public inquiry. i.e. a holistic package.

Andrew Kennedy posted this comment on the Croydon Town Transition Facebook and has generated some critical comments.

www.facebook.com/groups/CroydonTT/permalink/4757756504289247

Health and Welfare Issues

A COVID Update  from Croydon’s Director of Public Health is on Your Croydon.

Sarah Jones, MP reports in her latest newsletter that her ‘office continues to receive a high number of cases’ and constituents contact her ‘about a range of issues from overcrowded housing through to anti-social behaviour concerns. With the colder weather I have noticed a spike in hot water and heating related cases, as well as a rise in properties having mould and damp issues.’

Croydon Council and the local NHS are highlighting top tips on winter health to ensure residents keep warm and well and look after themselves, their home and others to fend off winter bugs and illness – Council’s Your Croydon pages. Much of this seems to be digital so will it reach those most in need of help?

Croydon MPs News

Croydon North MP Steve Reed is now Labour’s shadowing justice speaker, covering courts, prisons and probation.

After lobbying by Sarah Jones and other MPs the Government has announced changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill stating that assaults committed against shopworkers should be recognised as an aggravated offence – resulting in tougher sentencing for offenders. Jones’s efforts were triggered by meeting the Co-op Area Manager about the ‘troubling increase in violence and abuse against retail workers in recent years – with a significant increase during Coronavirus, a time when shop workers were already working under increased strain.’

Jones also reports that sexual and domestic abuse against women and girls will finally be recognised as ‘serious violence’ by the Government, following pressure from her and other MPs, after lobbying by her and colleagues.

Jones gave the keynote speech at the recent Develop Croydon conference. She
‘spoke of the many benefits that Croydon brings, with its green spaces, culture, cheaper office spaces, and fantastic access to Central London, but told delegates of the need to ‘level up’. London is the most fantastic city in the world: it really is the engine room of the UK. But in Croydon great prosperity sits alongside high levels of inequality and poverty. South London has lost out on regeneration: we have not seen a commitment to infrastructure as we should have done. Croydon must not be left behind: it has huge potential to grow. I want to see the tram extended, east Croydon station redeveloped and Croydon made zone 4.’

She was also interviewed on BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey about the greener side of Croydon. You can listen to the full episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09zf0pc

Other News

My London News has an article on the history of the IKEA Towers.

Developing a Mayoral Campaigning Strategy

A starting off point could be the approach I outlined in my letter to the Secretary of State of 4 February 2020, copied to the Council leadership and ignored by both:

  • amending the local government funding formula to recognise the extent of Croydon’s Inner London needs;
  • moving more civil servants into Croydon empty office buildings after the end of the COVID pandemic;
  • purchasing and leasing back Bernard Weatherill House to the Council;
  • approving and funding a Croydon Bank to enable the Council, the NHS, Croydon College, and businesses to invest in Croydon;
  • re-determining the fare zoning structure between Norbury and East and West Croydon to reduce computing from the south and resultant air pollution along London Rd;
  • improving private tenants’ rights including on length of tenancies, evictions and rent levels;
  • exempting Croydon from meeting the housing targets in the London Plan in favour of a requirement of planning applicants to meet local housing need as identified by the Council, with an emphasis on providing new homes at rents equivalent to those levied by the Council for the housing towns;
  • legislating a  requirement that the Whitgift Foundation as freeholder owner of the Whitgift Centre to contribute money to the Council for Town Centre investment.’
  • agreeing additional funding allocations to Croydon for:
  • skills training and the creation of green jobs;
  • joint action with the Environment Agency to improve anti-flooding measures, including along the Norbury Brook;
  • the sustainability and development of community and voluntary and social enterprise sector organisations;
  • the expansion of youth, mental health and domestic violence services and projects;
  • for all libraries to remain open and improve their offer to be developed by joint management committees with residents organisations and library users;
  • for work on improvements to parks and green spaces in partnership with Friends groups through joint management committees, including providing specialist skills training;
  • the implementation of the Town Centre District Heating Scheme;
  • the creation of neighbourhood decision making committees comprised of the local Councillors, community and voluntary, businesses and workforces in order to ensure that the Council’s projects and services are meeting local needs.

Experience of dealing with the Council raises the following questions, which the Mayoral and Council candidates for May need to think about:

  • Is it time to give up the delusion that we can be constructive critical ‘friends’ of the Council?
  • Is it time to turn the heat up on the Council leadership who do not appear to be in control, are still subject to dominance by officers?
  • How can the leadership justify the fiasco over the installation of new digital bus shelters when they took out the old ones?
  • Is it time for a backbench revolt – they have nothing to lose given many are not standing again and those that may be re-elected will have even less influence when the Mayor is in charge from May?
  • Is it essential to ensure a Mayor is elected who is not contaminated by the incompetence of the last eleven years?

About seancreighton1947

I have lived in Norbury since July 2011. I blog on Croydon, Norbury and history events,news and issues. I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I have submitted views to Council Committees and gave evidence against the Whitgift Centre CPO and to the Local Plan Inquiry. I am a member of Norbury Village Residents Association and Chair of Norbury Community Land Trust, and represent both on the Love Norbury community organisations partnership Committee. I used to write for the former web/print Croydon Citizen. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics history database. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour, radical and suffrage movements, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s