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 The Coulsdon West Blog
 
Cllr  Jeet  Bains
Cllr  Luke  Clancy
Cllr  Mario  Creatura
 

Speech on Croydon housing
17/10/2016 21:38:00......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I spoke against our Labour Council's debate motion at tonight's Council meeting. Their moton was:

'This council calls on Gavin Barwell MP, the Minister for Housing & Planning, to show his commitment to affordable council housing for local people by: 

  • Removing the artificial borrowing cap on the HRA to allow councils to borrow funds to enable the delivery of more affordable housing
  • To stop the enforced sell off of high value voids meaning this council would need to sell off desperately needed family homes and hand the income over to central government
  • To end the unfair 'Tenants' Tax' on working households which could force families from their homes
  • To end the enforced 1% rent cut, costing this council £31 million over the next four years, reducing services to tenants and affecting our ability to build new council homes'

You can watch my response here or read the transcript below:

"Thank you Mr Mayor. There is a well established convention in the Council Chamber that we do not attack those who are not here to defend themselves. This Labour motion is a direct and unwarranted partisan attack on Gavin Barwell, unable to speak for himself. The administration should be ashamed of themselves. 

But it’s worse than that, because this debate motion is a fundamental attempt to mislead the public. In putting forward this motion, Cllr Butler has revealed a shocking lack of even the most basic knowledge about the housing situation in Croydon: 

She asks for the government to remove the artificial borrowing cap on the HRA. 

There is nothing “artificial” about the cap. It is there to control the level of government borrowing. We know that debt in Croydon is already spiralling out of control, and as usual Labour are calling for more spending financed by debt, money we don’t have, that the next generation will have to repay. In 2014 - after Labour took control of the Council - the Government made available £300 million of additional borrowing to support new affordable homes. What did our Labour administration do? Absolutely nothing. You didn’t submit a bid. You want more money, but when it’s offered on a plate you do nothing. 

You ask for the Government to stop the sell off of high value voids but if you understood the policy, you’d know the Council would be able to keep enough money to replace the homes in question. The money that goes to the Government is being used to fund the Right to Buy for housing association tenants. We Conservatives want to help people fulfil their dream of owning their own home; quite simply Labour don’t – indeed your party recently announced that not only does Labour oppose giving housing association tenants the Right to Buy, you would deliberately suspend it for council tenants. Utterly shameful. 

You call on Gavin to end the higher rents on working households. Again, you’ve misunderstood the policy. The Government believes that tenants on higher incomes, initially over £40,000 a year, should pay higher rents - why should the wealthier receive the same level of subsidy as poorer tenants? I thought that Labour would share our view that those who are better off should contribute more - evidently not! 

That said, it’s important that people aren’t penalised for working hard so there’s a 15% taper meaning that for every additional thousand pound of income a household has above £40,000 a year, they will pay an extra £2.88 a week in rent. Nationally, more than 90% of households living in council properties will be unaffected by the policy. 

You ask for the Government to end the 1% rent cut, you say it’ll cost this council £31 million over the next four years. This highlights perhaps the starkest difference between Labour and the Conservatives: Labour always think of the bureaucratic Council, we think of the tenants. This policy is saving tenants money and also taxpayers by reducing the Housing Benefit bill a bill that’s risen by a quarter over the last decade to £13.2 billion last year. 

In conclusion Mr Mayor, this debate is nothing more than politically motivated Punch and Judy politics. Poorly researched and poorly understood. It’s a shocking indictment of an administration failing to get a grip not only on Croydon’s finances, but on the simplest of facts. Croydon deserves better. 

I oppose this motion." 

 
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How many Council tenants have made 'disrepair' claims?
15/02/2017 16:46:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've sent the following question in to the Council, I'll update when I received a response:

Could the Cabinet Member please detail the total number of 'disrepair' claims made by Council housing tenants each year from 2010 to the most recent year available?

Can the Cabinet Member please detail the total figure each year spent on legal fees or compensation paid as a result of 'disrepair' claims?

 


 

Objection to the 20mph zone consultation process
15/02/2017 15:07:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Below is my submission the the Council's extremly flawed consultation on 20mph zones in Croydon. I do not oppose 20mph roads where they are required or where residents want them, however, the way this consultation is being carried out degrades the democratic mandate of the Labour administration and weakens faith in the consultation process. I therefore write in opposition to this and not the principle of the policy:

____________________________________________________

I write to object at the process by this this consultation is being carried out.

1. The website does not allow respondents to 'support' the proposal for 20mph zones. As indicated by the text on the website and implied by the email address, only objections are sought. 

One example of this can be found at the following web link.

The site says:

'The statutory consultation will close on 15 February 2017.  Persons desiring to object to the proposed Order should send a statement in writing of their objection quoting PD/CH/A63 and the grounds thereof to the... or by emailing objections@croydon.gov.uk quoting the reference PD/CH/A63 by 15 February 2017.’

Does this not imply that there is a presumption of opposition to the proposals? How will the Council assess support for the plans? If you received 1,000 objections and no statements of support, how can the Council proceed with the policy? If there are 2,000 supporters, for arguments sake, they have no formal mechanism to respond. This is undemocratic as it does not allow for an equal expression of opinion in the consultation. This implies the Council is not prepared to actually listen to the volume of opinion and so degrades trust in the consultative process.

2. No threshold for ‘objections received’ has been supplied. This is, to use the above example, mean that if you received 1,000 objections and no expressions of support that with 100% opposition the Council could still proceed with the policy. This will weaken the foundations of democratic accountability in Croydon, and not serve to bolster the administrations claims to be ‘open and transparent’. Why not have the threshold published and demonstrate a faith in the strength of the arguments provided? 

With no option to ‘support’ the proposals, there is nothing to combat the narrative that ‘100% of respondents objected to the 20mph policy’ – it will be a matter of fact due to the Council not providing another option.

3. The Council is well aware that in Zones 1 and 2 that residents were given the opportunity to support or object in the first round of the consultation. This eventually resulted in the policy going ahead in those two zones. Given the success rate of this approach, it does not make democratic sense for the consultation to be amended for the 3rd, 4th and 5th zones.

The narrative that the Council treats residents in different parts of the borough differently, or at least that they do not care to listen to all residents equally, is entirely justified as it is literally what has happened with this consultation. 

Many of my Residents’ Associations feel like their voices are not being heard equally or fairly by the administration: you’ll have seen objections to the consultation from Old Coulsdon Residents’ Association and East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, to name a few. It’s important to note that this is not a partisan point – the Chair of ECRA is a staunch Labour member and has run for the Labour Party in many different elections.

4. I do not object to the principle of individual roads being 20MPH, but I do object to the poor way that the Council has implemented this policy. If you are going to consult with residents, consult with them all consistently and with a mechanism by which you can guarantee you will hear the full range of opinions on a policy. The Council has not done that in this instance, has therefore weakened their claim to be open and transparent, has shaken faith in the principle of consultations and has silenced potentially thousands of residents who may wish to support the Council’s policy.

If the Council believes that 20MPH zones is the right course, then they should have the confidence to make the case firmly for them in public, provide evidence for their assertions and correct opposition, consult all widely and fairly, and then respond to the will of the electorate.

As it currently stands, the changes to this consultation over the previous months implies that the consultation is being treated as a formality and not as the vital democratic step that it is.

It is for these reasons, and these alone, that I object to the consultation process.

 


 

Lost revenue from 1 hour free parking?
09/02/2017 17:00:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've sent the following question in to the Council, I'll update when I received a response:

 

At the last Traffic Management Committee, Cllr King said that the annual loss of revenue from re-introducing 1 hour free parking in district centres was £155,000.

Could you please provide a breakdown as to how this was calculated please? It would be welcome if annual figures from 2014 to today would be included.

It would be helpful to also have these figures broken down by district centre.

 


 

How should Coulsdon police communicate with you?
08/02/2017 12:35:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Coulsdon Police communicate policing news and crime prevention advice to local residents on a regular basis. They're quite rightly conducting a review on how they do this.

Please do spare a few minutes and complete their short survey by clicking on the link and help them to improve how they deliver information to the local community: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/F28K8DK

 

 


 

How do we build schools for the future?
08/02/2017 12:16:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Last night at Children and Young People's Scrutiny I asked officers and Cllr Flemming how the Council goes about assessing population demands and long-term plans for school construction across the borough.

You can watch the exchange online on the Council website. 

 

 

 

 


 

Empty units in Croydon Town Centre
08/02/2017 10:49:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Question from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Mark Watson

Could the Council please provide detail on plans for currently empty units from the junction of George Street/Church Street/High Street and North End to the junction of High Street and Scarbrook Road in the Town Centre?

In particular the following empty units:

  • Yates'
  • Tiger Tiger
  • Banana Joe's
  • Roxbury Nighclub
  • 43 High Street (seemingly empty unit in between The Spreadeagle and The Ship)
  • 53 High Street (empty unit next to Sainsbury's Local)

What is the Council's policy on encouraging businesses to invest in this area of Croydon? What talks are in place to fill these empty units and when can we expect new business to appear in this section of the Town Centre?

Reply

Yates’ 3-11 High Street

Managed by Nash Bond

Contracts have been exchanged with a restaurant who will take occupation shortly. The space is due to be occupied by the popular burger chain, Five Guys who obtained planning approval for the change of use class from a bar/club to a fast food restaurant in spring 2016. Five Guys are currently going through planning for their shop front.

Tiger Tiger 16 High Street

Turtle Bay is a national Caribbean restaurant chain which has taken a lease of the former Tiger Tiger premises. The restaurant is due to open on Sunday 29th January. 

Banana Joe’s 15 High Street

Managed by Stuart Edwards Fullermoon

The unit has been let to Stitch and Thimble who are currently letting 37 High Street. 

Roxbury Nightclub 19-21 High Street

Managed by Stuart Edwards Fullermoon

This property has been let to a retailer is who is currently fitting out the property. No further information has been disclosed.

43 High Street Managed by Jenkins Law

This property is currently under offer and is designated for D1 (non-residential institutions) use. The intended use is for a dentist who will occupy the ground and basement floors.

49-53 High Street Managed by David Menzies Associates

The property is currently under offer and is designated for A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services) or A3 (restaurants and cafés) use. No further information has been disclosed.

Croydon’s Inward Investment team provides a dedicated, customer focused service to businesses actively seeking premises across the borough and the town centre. 

The team works directly with businesses to understand their requirements as potential occupiers, and specialises in providing an efficient process-driven approach to identifying potential spaces in the borough and assisting businesses throughout the site evaluation and acquisition process.

The Inward Investment team also actively promotes the town centre and the wider borough to new investors and occupiers through direct engage as well as by working closely with external partners such as London & Partners and the Dept. for International Trade to promote Croydon to national and foreign investors and occupiers.

In order to further support new and existing businesses in Croydon, the Council offers a free-to-use job brokerage service, Croydon Works, to employers/businesses recruiting in Croydon which further encourages businesses to invest in the borough.  www.croydonworks.co.uk

In addition, the Council has recently introduced a local discretionary business rate relief policy that can potentially offer support to Croydon occupiers achieving the following outcomes:

  1. Supporting inward investment from large companies bringing significant numbers of new jobs to the borough;
  2. Supporting smaller businesses to locate in the area and helping them through difficult periods to become sustainable in the longer term;
  3. Bringing empty space back into use to support the economy.

(Photo by Kake Pugh, used under Creative Commons licence)

 


 

How do Emergency Placements for vulnerable children work?
07/02/2017 17:01:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've sent the following question in to the Council, I'll update when I received a response:

When the Council is made aware of an incident concerning children that necessitates an emergency placement or somewhere to stay for the night at short notice, how does this work in practice?

Does the Council have any measurable data about the time from reporting concern to removal of the child and successful placement in a temporary safe environment?

Are there enough placements available for emergency situations?

 


 

The future of Coulsdon Community Centre
03/02/2017 08:00:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Many residents have expressed their concern at proposals for the Council's Brick-By-Brick development company to close down Coulsdon Library and the Coulsdon Communty Centre on Barrie Close and move them both into the CALAT building.

There are a number of obvious issues with this, not least that the current Cousdon Community Centre is operating at 95% capacity and is

At full Council on Monday 30th Januar I asked Cllr Alison Butler, the architect behind Brick-by-Bricks' bonkers plan, how she can support and justify the plans. You can view the exchange online. My question is below.

"Cllr Timothy Godfrey praised the community services offered by the Coulsdon Community Centre and has been citing it as an example of best practice in the borough. Brick by Brick are currently formulating plans to shut down the Community Centre as well as Coulsdon Library and move all the services into the much, much smaller CALAT centre. Do you Cabinet member support Brick by Brick in this?"

"The Community Centre currently is at 95% capacity in a building that s 850sq m. The CALATs net internal area is only 661sqm in size. What is your message to those hundreds of residents who will have their community services cut if you continue to push this destructive agenda?"

If you were one of the parents, children or elderly residents who use the Coulsdon Community Centre day in, day out, and you heard Cllr Butler's response - would you be confident the Centre was safe from closure?

I think not.

 


 

How will 20mph be enforced?
02/02/2017 14:52:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

Question from Councillor Mario Creatura to Councillor Hamida Ali

Borough Commander Boothe has said publicly that for the Council's 20mph policy to be enforced, education of the public and police officer training will be needed. He has rightly said he is keen to enter into a conversation with lead officers to discuss enforcement strategies. 

At this stage, can the Council please outline what conversations it had with Croydon Police before embarking on the consultation to ascertain the level of public investment needed to police and enforce new 20mph speeding zones, as Ch Insp Boothe implies?

What is the Council's plan to provide additional funding to the police to aid enforcement of the 20mph policy?

Reply

The Metropolitan Police were informed at all stages of the development of the area wide 20mph speed limit proposals, and an officer from the Metropolitan Police was part of the working group that guided its development.

The initial proposal for an area wide 20mph speed limit was also the subject of a report to the Council’s Streets and Environment Scrutiny sub-committee meeting on 16th September 2014.  At this meeting the Metropolitan Police representative, Chief Inspector Malcolm Noone, indicated that the Police would provide the same level of enforcement for the 20mph as they currently do for the 30mph limit, and as such, there would be no difference in their workload.

Cllr King, as Cabinet Member for Transport and the Environment and I will be meeting with the Borough Commander in the near future to discuss how both the council and the police can continue to work together to support 20mph zones across the borough, and other road safety priorities.

The council already works closely with the Metropolitan Police on a number of enforcement schemes including the RoadWatch project and the provision of data through our innovative automatic number plate recognition systems.  The Council will continue to provide direct support of this nature to the Police on enforcement issues, and will continue to take an active part in any strategies that help reduce traffic speeds and improve road safety on our highway.

 


 

Why won't Croydon Labour support making London a National Park City?
01/02/2017 17:02:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

 
 

I've sent the below question in to the Council, I'll update this blog when I receive a response:

Almost a year ago, every ward held by Croydon Conservatives declared their support for the 'Greater London National Park City' campaign.

London can become a National Park City once at least two-thirds (436) of London’s 654 wards, the Mayor of London and the London Assembly have declared their support. So far just 213 wards have.

Despite requesting that Croydon's 40 Labour councillors register their support, none have yet done so. I feel this is a terrible shame.

Could the Cabinet Member please explain their reason for ignoring Conservative calls for cross-party support on this campaign to date? Alternatively will the Cabinet Member endorse our calls that Croydon becomes the first full borough in London to declare its support? Members can do so using the http://www.nationalparkcity.london/ website.

Cllr Jason Perry, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning & Regeneration, commented at the time: “Croydon is the most populated London borough and has over 120 parks and open spaces. We felt it vitally important to support this initiative that will protect and promote our precious green spaces for generations to come.” I hope all members of the Council agree with that sentiment, and that all Croydon Labour Councillors will be encouraged to get behind this important initiative.

 


 

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 Older Blog Posts
31/01/2017
Why the welcome u-turn on free parking?
31/01/2017
Welcome u-turn from Labour on 1-hour free parking in Coulsdon Town
25/01/2017
Housing for veterans in Croydon
25/01/2017
YBS in Coulsdon Town to close in May
25/01/2017
Question to the Council on pub closure policy
18/01/2017
Survey: Vast majority want no housing on Lion Green Road and at least 200 parking spaces
27/11/2016
Cleaning up Coulsdon with youth group
11/11/2016
Extra help if there’s a power cut
01/11/2016
SURVEY: What do you want on the Lion Green Road site?
29/10/2016
Old Lodge Lane Closure starting November 21 until January 9.
17/10/2016
Speech on Croydon housing
17/10/2016
Update: highway maintenance, Brighton Road Coulsdon
13/10/2016
Creative accounting masks Labour's £7 million overspend?
05/10/2016
Altering Traffic Management Control 10th – 24th October: Brighton Road, Coulsdon
04/10/2016
Lord Roberts shop and Post Office
30/09/2016
'Phantom' development at 45 Woodcote Valley Road revealed as bogus
28/09/2016
Police patrolling Chipstead Valley and Woodcote Primary School
28/09/2016
Extra police in Coulsdon West
23/09/2016
Cane Hill reserved matters
23/09/2016
Yet another planning travesty
22/09/2016
Woodmansterne Lagoon update
21/09/2016
Tackling flooding caused by the River Bourne
21/09/2016
Cane Hill planning meeting
20/09/2016
Coulsdon Post Office
02/09/2016
When shopping at Coulsdon Waitrose, help Yulefest!
01/09/2016
Brighton Road, Coulsdon water leak
01/09/2016
Coulsdon West councillors use ward budget to install picnic table
29/08/2016
Coulsdon West police surgery
17/08/2016
Repairing the road outside Aldi in Coulsdon Town
19/07/2016
Heatwave - take care today
 
 
 
 
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