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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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 Other Blog Posts

Planned Lion Green Road parking spaces upped to 80, but falls short of demand
03/04/2017 21:45:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

I’ve just returned from a Coulsdon member briefing where the future of the Lion Green Road site was discussed again.

Brick-by-Brick, the Council’s arms-length in-house development company, delivered a presentation on this important site. 

It is welcome that Brick-by-Brick intend to increase parking spaces a little from previous estimates but more provision should be made to serve the town centre's uses.

Whereas we had previously been told the Lion Green Site would deliver only around 50 car parking spaces, this has now been upped to 80. However, this still falls far short of the expectations of local residents and businesses. In our recent survey they expressed the view that 100 parking spaces is the absolute baseline that should be considered; 19% would like to see between 100 and 175 parking spaces, and the majority (56%) would like to see at least 200 spaces.

Any less and this would deal a serious blow to the viability of the town centre.

The development would also see around 105 flats built on the site (which themselves would share 55 separate parking spaces) in a 3-7 storey development organised in five ‘pavillions’.

Public consultations are due on the sites in late-April, with full planning applications submitted from Brick-by-Brick at the end of May.




Permits at tip needed from April 2017
10/03/2017 16:04:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


The Council has surprised residents right across the borough with the news that from 3rd April 2017 everyone will need TWO forms of ID to be able to take rubbish to the borough's tips.

The news came as a story in the Croydon Advertiser and not announced in consultation with Residents' Associations despite every house receiving communication about the 5% increase in Council Tax within the last week.

If you go to any of the Croydon tips after the 3rd April you will need to take two forms of identification from the list below. It is entirely possible that this will serve to increase queuing the already long queues at the tips and many residents will be turned away despite waiting for a long period of time as they will not have been told about the new rules. Please leave good time if you are to use the tips after 3rd April.

You can read the full story on the Croydon Advertiser website.

Your document must be current and valid.

  • Passport (EU or Non-EU)
  • Full or provisional UK Photocard Driving Licence (paper licences not acceptable)
  • EU Photocard Driving Licence
  • National Identity card (Non-UK nationals)
  • Electoral Identity Card (Northern Ireland)
  • Address ID group
  • Your document must be in date as shown below.
  • Full or provisional paper UK Driving Licence (if issued before 1998)
  • EU Photocard Driving Licence
  • Utility bill (dated within last 3 months) (not mobile phone)
  • Bank or building society statement (dated within last 3 months)
  • Council tax bill (dated within last 12 months)
  • Mortgage statement (dated within last 12 months)
  • Benefit statement or letter e.g. Pension, Child Benefit (dated within last 3 months)
  • HMRC document (not P45 or P60)
  • Electoral identity card



Supporting Purley Youth Project
09/03/2017 13:57:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy


The 3 Cousldon West councillors pictured with volunteers from Purley Youth Project - to which we made £1,000 contribution from the Community Ward Budget this year.

The Purley Youth Project is a charity that was set up by 6 local churches in the Purley and Kenley area in 1987. It is open from 5.00pm until 7.00pm every Wednesday and during the school holidays at the youth centre behind Purley United Reformed Church in Brighton Road.

Through discussion, informal education and activities, the project aims to meet childrens' social, personal and spiritual needs, whilst helping them contact and develop relationships with young people in central Purley and throughout the borough

At the time of our visit the centre was very busy with 85 kids all enjoying themselves and letting off steam outside of school.

Those interested can find out more here:



Fairfield Halls planning concerns
03/03/2017 14:11:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

Reports have been run recently relaying that the Conservatives opposed the Fairfield Halls planning application last week so I would like to put on record some of the concerns I had with the development to put the issue into some context and explain why I cast my vote in the way did.  

Whilst I supported the objective of developing the entertainment offering and financing this with some enabling development, the scale (over 2,200 homes) is I feel cramming too much in. The density is too high and I’m concerned that daylight and sunlight conditions for some homes are well below the recommended standards.

In terms of the theatre offering, there are misgivings the future offering has been decided on without necessary input from potential theatre operators – most notably there was highlighted a number of perceived flaws in the design of the ‘Get In’ that could hamper efforts to book the best and biggest acts.

Then there is the level of reduction of educational floorspace by what could be more than half. This is despite the acknowledged ambition to allow the College to further develop its university offer. The two objectives seem at odds and counter intuitive.

The design of some of the residential blocks is a little uninspiring. Pre-cast concrete? It sounds like a return to the 1960s, and the type of design palate that the town has suffered from for half a century.

In College Green I would like to see more thought given to how this area may be used for outdoor activities and by spectators.

I also think the significant reduction in public car parking provision will be to the detriment of the Halls and the wider town centre; 243 commuter parking spaces would be displaced. These are the regular visitors to our town who spend their salaries in local businesses. I would like to welcome the creation of a two thousand square metre art gallery but I do worry it is a folly at the expense of essential car parking.

Additionally, I deplore the destruction of the Arnhem gate - at the very least it should be mitigated more meaningfully than putting some lighting along the Park Lane frontage.

[It should be noted on the same night there was also an application for an infill site in Coulsdon West in The Avenue. This got approved despite it feeling like an over-development. Worryingly, however, my colleague Cllr Jeet Bains was denied the opportunity to speak against the application, even though the agenda listed him as the referring councillor and so his referral was the reason the application was being heard by committee. Cllr Bains was denied the opportunity to speak by on a technicality - that he had not registered in time to do so. This feels profoundly undemocratic and I do not recall a similar instance of referring councillors being denied speaking time when the Conservatives were the majority group on that committee].



Lion Green Road to be slashed to 50 parking spaces
03/03/2017 14:11:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

Last night I received a Coulsdon member briefing where the future of the Lion Green Road site was discussed.

The biggest piece of news is that Brick by Brick, the Council’s in-house development company is planning to deliver only around 50 car parking spaces on the Lion Green Road site (as well as c. 100 residential units).

That is well short of expectations of local residents and businesses expressed in our recent survey and would deal a serious blow to the viability of the town centre.

In our survey, asked how many car parking spaces they thought should be accommodated on the Lion Green Road site, a majority (56%) would like to see at least 200 spaces. A total of 18% of respondents would like to see 100 parking spaces, while 19% would like to see between 100 and 175 parking spaces, and only 7% would like less than 100 spaces. The preference of most respondents was that a substantial proportion of parking spaces should be long term (in excess of 7 hour stay).

This is the second successive Coulsdon member briefing meeting that Brick by Brick has offered apologies for, and instead sent a series of bullet points detailing its latest plans. It is a real shame that they don’t feel they can face us to explain their plans.

Options to combine residential development with a relocation of the Library as well as the Community Centre in Barrie Close to the former CALAT site remain in principle on the table (although we were told the Community Centre is resisting because the facilities and parking spaces would not be replaced on a like-for-like basis).

Public consultations are due on the sites in mid-April, but Brick by Brick has already begun pre-application discussions with the Council.



Surgery this Saturday cancelled
02/03/2017 14:16:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura

Sadly neither myself nor my two Coulsdon West councillor colleagues will be able to attend our normally monthly surgery this coming Saturday morning (4th March) in the Coulsdon Community Centre.

Normal service resumes on 1st April. 

If you have any issues that you need support with, please do contact us using; and and we'd be more than happy to help.



Lion Green Road carriageway surfacing
27/02/2017 19:16:00.......Posted by Luke Clancy

Kier Highways, on behalf of Croydon Council, will shortly be commencing iron works repairs on 13th and 14th March between 21:30-05:30 in Lion Green Road.

On-street parking will be suspended during works hours. Vehicular access to and from properties adjacent to the road should be reduced to a minimum during the works hours. Pedestrian access will not be affected.

The resurfacing works will take place between Brighton Road and Chipstead Valley Road and due to the nature of these works it is inevitable that some disruption will occur. For this reason it is recommended that where possible you use alternative routes, or allow extra time to complete your journey.

All residents should ensure that their vehicles are moved from the suspended areas in order to avoid any delays to the works as well as incurring any charges.

If your vehicle is relocated please contact TRACE on 0207 747 4747, who will provide you with an exact location of your vehicle.



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?


[See blog picture]

Looking at Croydon Council data between the period 2010/11 and 2016/17 this shows that:

  • Number of Disrepair cases bought against the Council    111
  • Number of Disrepair cases settled by the Council              39
  • Number of cases successfully defended and dismissed   49
  • Current case work                                                                     23
  • Damages settlement for cases bought against the Council £231,621.21
  • Average cost per case £5,939

Whilst there has not been an increase in cases over the period and they have reduced in the last 2 years, there has been an increase in the number of cases settled.  However, some cases are settled by carrying out a range of works and there is no monetary compensation or costs paid.  The increased level of cases settled is primarily due to a change in the way that the Courts are judging these cases in favour of claimants and where cases of mould and condensation due to construction type and inadequate heating levels and ventilation are now seen as a defect and an impact on health. There has also been an increase in legal costs over the last 2 years.  Many of the cases brought forward are successfully challenged by the council.

The council is committed to ensuring that all our council tenants live in good quality homes. Through investing up to £28 million per year on programmes such as new central heating, windows, kitchens and bathrooms, we have maintained all our homes at the Decent Homes Standard.  



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 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.



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 Older Blog Posts
How do we build schools for the future?
Empty units in Croydon Town Centre
How do Emergency Placements for vulnerable children work?
The future of Coulsdon Community Centre
How will 20mph be enforced?
Why won't Croydon Labour support making London a National Park City?
How many children are currently missing in Croydon?
Why the welcome u-turn on free parking?
Welcome u-turn from Labour on 1-hour free parking in Coulsdon Town
Housing for veterans in Croydon
YBS in Coulsdon Town to close in May
Question to the Council on pub closure policy
Survey: Vast majority want no housing on Lion Green Road and at least 200 parking spaces
Cleaning up Coulsdon with youth group
Extra help if there’s a power cut
SURVEY: What do you want on the Lion Green Road site?
Old Lodge Lane Closure starting November 21 until January 9.
Speech on Croydon housing
Update: highway maintenance, Brighton Road Coulsdon
Creative accounting masks Labour's £7 million overspend?
Altering Traffic Management Control 10th – 24th October: Brighton Road, Coulsdon
Lord Roberts shop and Post Office
'Phantom' development at 45 Woodcote Valley Road revealed as bogus
Police patrolling Chipstead Valley and Woodcote Primary School
Extra police in Coulsdon West
Cane Hill reserved matters
Yet another planning travesty
Woodmansterne Lagoon update
Tackling flooding caused by the River Bourne
Cane Hill planning meeting
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