Individual residents and their residents’ associations are continually telling us that the council doesn’t listen. Too many consultations are carried out in a perfunctory way and the results ignored if they don’t suit the administration. Other decisions are made without any consultation at all.
The council used to come out to the regions of Croydon and stage public meetings to hear about residents’ priorities and deal with sometimes difficult questions. The current administration has abandoned these, preferring to skulk in the town hall.
Over 11,000 residents signed the public petition asking the council to do a phased refurbishment of the Fairfield Halls rather than a full closure. Labour ignored them.
Over 10,000 residents petitioned the council not to withdraw the free Green Waste service. Labour ignored them.
Over 16,000 residents objected to the last three stages of Labour’s local plan, which will decide what gets planning permission for the next 20 years. Labour ignored them.
Over 8,000 residents petitioned Labour opposing the construction of the 17 storey skyscraper in Purley: Labour ignored them.
Thousands of residents up and down the borough have objected to the council’s housing company ‘Brick By Brick’ concreting over the community centres, youth centres and green spaces between the buildings in council-owned estates: Labour ignored them.
Thousands more in the south of the borough asked the council not to introduce blanket 20mph zones in the south of the borough without first holding a yes/no referendum. Labour ignored them.
Listening to residents
Far too many of you have told us that Croydon’s Labour-run Council is not on the side of residents. Whether it’s complaints about planning applications, sham consultations or taking decisions behind closed doors – we will not allow that to happen under a Council run by the Conservatives:
We’ll bring back regular public meetings so that the Council hears directly from residents about what matters to them (we have held 6 roadshows like this across the Borough recently).
We’ll make sure decisions about parking and road management are taken in public instead of by one person behind closed doors as it is now.
We’ll set up area panels for ward councillors and residents’ groups to manage a budget for your patch, giving residents real control about how the council spends money there.
We believe strong residents' associations are an important part of our democracy and we will encourage the development of strong residents' associations in those areas that don't currently have them. We will make available seed funding to enable those groups to get established and ask already strong RAs to support them.
We'll set up a residents' association forum to enable key RA members to meet with the Leader and cabinet to discuss issues concerning them.
We’ll restore faith in the Planning Committee’s integrity – lost through so many unpopular decisions.
We will get the other stalled regeneration schemes moving again, such as Taberner House, College Green and Purley town centre: these are all important for future jobs.
We’ll ensure other parties’ councillors are better engaged with how our Council is run. At the moment virtually all decisions are made by a small group from the controlling party and the opposition gets no information: this is bad for our democracy.
Cuts to the opening hours of the contact centre and the constant push of services online have disadvantaged some groups of residents, particularly the elderly and the most vulnerable. We’ll get our contact teams to travel around the borough, giving residents better access to face-to-face support.
We’ll set up cross-party steering groups for major projects such as Westfield with residents’ groups and local businesses taking a key role guiding our town.
We will immediately reform the cabinet decision-making system and ensure that it becomes properly accountable and transparent. At the moment too much power is devolved to individual cabinet members and council officers to take decisions behind closed doors.
We will make the vice chair of many important council committees a member of the opposition, to ensure that they are properly sighted on what is going on. At the moment virtually all decisions are made by the controlling party and the opposition is starved of information: this is not good for our democracy.
In the longer term we will review whether we should ditch the cabinet/scrutiny model which is responsible for much of the secrecy around the town hall.