Cllr Tony Newman, Labour Leader of Croydon Council, has made an extraordinary public attack on an independent charity seeking to improve public health across London.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) released a report last week revealing that, by their assessment, three of the 10 unhealthiest high streets in London are in Croydon.
Thornton Heath, South Norwood and New Addington occupy the 3rd, 5th and 6th places respectively. No other London Borough has three in the top 10 making Croydon home to the highest concentration of unhealthy high street.
To produce the rankings, each outlet on a high street was scored based on the same four areas of health:
- Encourages healthy lifestyle choices
- Promotes social interaction
- Allows greater access to health care services and/or health advice
- Promotes mental wellbeing
Cllr Newman, whose Woodside ward is largely in South Norwood, tweeted the following in response to the report:
“Sad to see ill informed & inaccurate @R_S_P_H playing to a right wing media narrative & running down some of our local communities, whilst taking no account of community led regeneration & Council investment despite 8 years of cuts & austerity.”
Council Tax has increased by 17 per cent since Labour took over Croydon Council in 2014. In July this year Labour Councillors voted to give themselves a six per cent pay increase, with the Labour Chair of Health and Wellbeing receiving a whopping 40 per cent pay boost. But apparently the Council has no money for improving the health of our residents.
The RSPH is the longest-established public health organisation in the UK. It is incorporated by Royal Charter and its patron is Her Majesty The Queen. Through its work it educates, empowers and supports communities and individuals to live healthily.
It was formed in October 2008 through the merger of the Royal Society of Health (RSH) and the Royal Institute of Public Health (RIPH). The RSH has been in existence since 1876. The origins of the RIPH can be traced back to 1856.
Cllr Tim Pollard, Croydon Conservative Leader, has commented: “It beggars belief that Cllr Newman can react so childishly to such an important piece of research.
“Instead of heeding the troubling information contained in the report and working to make life healthier for all our residents, the Labour Leader seems intent on throwing about conspiracy theories and blame. Blame that seems to apply to anyone but him and his Administration.
“He is the Leader of Croydon Council. He is paid to make our town better. He needs to get on and do his job or step aside so we can.”
Cllr Yvette Hopley, Conservative spokesperson for Health, has said: “Cllr Louisa Woodley has been the Labour lead on health for more than four years now. For Croydon to be home to three of the unhealthiest high streets in London is yet another stain on her shocking record of delivery.
“On the one hand Labour claim they have no money to help make our high streets healthier – on the other in July this year they chose to give Cllr Woodley a massive 40 per cent pay boost.
“Whatever it was for, her pay evidently isn’t performance based.”
Of the 10 healthiest high streets, none were in Croydon.