Life in our town is about so much more than just working and sleeping. We need our town to offer leisure activities for all, old and young. With the proposed redevelopment of the town centre we have a ‘one off’ opportunity to rebalance what is there and ensure that we have something for everyone.
All the main parties agree on this: where we differ is in how practical our solutions are. But our Parks department has been cut down to just one person, trying to manage well over one hundred green spaces. We desperately need more investment in the parks.
Fairfield Halls was closed in the summer of 2016 and we were told it would reopen in spring 2018. It is now clear that this is really going to be spring 2019 at the earliest.
A few of our parks have ‘enjoyed’ having several hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on consultants to draw up masterplans for improving them: unfortunately that spent all the budget so there was no money left for actually doing anything!
The parks management team at the town hall has now been cut to just one person, who is expected to manage 130 parks and open spaces. This means the parks’ friends groups can’t get anything done.
We are worried about Boxpark – it was a great concept but it is looking as though it is in trouble, with empty units, a new focus on alcohol rather than food and a recently posted £500,000 loss. Given that Labour loaned the company running it over £3M of our money, we need it to work!
We have a number of parks which are good, but none which are ‘destination parks’ which people feel they can happily spend all day in. Residents tell us that, for this, you have to go to Priory Park in Reigate or Kelsey Park in Bromley.
Croydon Labour made a bid to the Labour Mayor of London for Croydon to be a 'Borough of Culture'. Sadly the Mayor was unmoved and the accolades went to Waltham Forest and Brent instead.
Putting the fun back in Croydon
Life in Croydon is about so much more than just working and sleeping. Our town needs to offer leisure activities for all, old and young. We must never underestimate how important the arts and culture are for Croydon – this is about more than just hosting the odd event, it needs to be embedded in the DNA of our town:
We will invest in one of Croydon’s parks bringing a state-of-the-art adventure playground, café, performance spaces, outdoor auditorium for concerts, zip wires, cycle routes and bike hire - everything the family needs for a fantastic day out. Pictured is the fantastic adventure playground and performance space at Telford, and is the sort of thing we should aspire to. There's more on Telford Town Park here.
We will invest in our other parks and libraries: no library will be closed, they will remain in public ownership and no council-managed green space will be allowed to be concreted over.
We will beef up the team running parks, to include creating the position of Head Park-keeper so that people (and the wonderful ‘friends groups’) know who to contact about parks.
We will get Fairfield Halls re-opened quickly, and ensure that there are proper arrangements in place for cost-effective community use as well as commercial use. We regret that the venue has been closed for three years under Labour and that all the expertise of the former members of staff and Corps of Volunteers has been allowed to disappear. But what matters now is getting it open again, with a quality commercial arts offering and lots of community events.
We will work with Boxpark to help it grow and evolve.
We will work with traders to encourage Surrey Street market to become a diverse and modern street market to complement the developing retail offer in the Whitgift Centre
We will continue to promote a diverse range of festivals and celebrations in our town and district centres, including a dance festival to celebrate the dance traditions of the many communities which now make Croydon their home.
Croydon Conservatives strongly support our LGBT community: we will continue to support the Pride Festival at current levels or better.
To celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War, in which so many 18-year-olds gave their lives, we will set up a bursary scheme to help disadvantaged 18 year-olds from Croydon go to University or college.