Local Update (October 2020)

Below is a short update on some local issues and campaigns that I hope you will find useful – please do share this with your friends and neighbours living in the area. 

Croydon Council’s Auditors Sound Alarm 
After six years of mismanagement by Labour, Croydon Council is the only one of London’s 33 Boroughs to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. External auditors Grant Thornton have just taken the near-unprecedented step of announcing their intention to publish an emergency “Public Interest” report, so serious are the problems.  The report’s formal publication is imminent, but an email to council staff says that the report finds that there was “corporate blindness” to the problems and that “numerous opportunities” were missed to improve the council’s financial position during Labour’s years in office. It said that “Financial governance has been focused on lobbying the Government for additional funding, and not taking actions to contain spending within available funding”. The council has, in recent years, wasted £30m of public money buying the Croydon Park Hotel that then went bust. They wasted £53m of public money buying a secondary shopping centre, whose value has since crashed. They wasted £440,000 paying off the Council’s disastrous previous CEO with a golden farewell. On top of this they have poured over a quarter of a billion pounds of public money into their 100% owned loss making and destructive developer, Brick by Brick (which to add insult to injury is also destroying every inch of green space it can find). They have run up a staggering £1.5 billion pounds of debt, far higher than any other London council. This now threatens basic services, and I will update you as I get further information.

Ultimately, a Directly Elected Executive Mayor for Croydon will be accountable to the whole Borough and could bring about real change. You can read more about the campaign here.

Broken Parking Promises 
Another reason I am supporting the campaign for a Directly Elected Mayor is that the Labour Council is in the process of “consulting” on breaking one of their major promises. In the past they have repeatedly promised to support local businesses with one hour’s free parking in town centres, but now they are planning to abolish 30 minute and one hour parking bays in the New Year if it goes ahead. This will affect the whole Borough, but shop owners in Coulsdon, Purley and elsewhere are especially concerned. Shops need people to be able to park for a short time while people pop in and out.

It appears that the purpose of the policy is to try to recoup some of the cash that the Council has been wasting, with £1 million in charges already budgeted for.  I oppose this measure which breaks a promise and makes life even harder for shopkeepers at what is already a difficult time. There is a petition here:  https://www.croydonconservatives.com/stop-parking-tax.  They should desist their destructive Brock by Brick activities and sell their commercial assets (such as the hotel) instead of penalising local people and shopkeepers.

Children’s Hospital Pyjamas
Croydon based charity Children’s Hospital Pyjamas collects pyjamas and distributes them to young children who need them across England. However, they are worried about the number of donations they receive because of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are able to donate, or would like to learn more, then you can do so here www.childrenshospitalpyjamas.co.uk

Street Stall
I will be at a (socially distanced) street stall on Brighton Road Purley, by Lorimers, tomorrow – Saturday 24th October – from 10:30 to 11:30 to discuss any issues on your mind.  Please drop by if you would like to raise anything or just say hello.

Croydon in Tier 2
Croydon, along with the rest of London, entered Tier 2 (or High Alert Level) last week. This means that the rules on what we can and cannot do will change. The NHS has created a chart showing the new rules, which I have included below.  I very much hope that we can move out of this as quickly as possible so that businesses are able to fully recover.  In the meantime, the Chancellor has just announced further support for affected businesses in addition to the £190 billion already provided – but there is clearly a limit as to how long this situation can continue.