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 The Coulsdon Town Blog
Cllr  Luke  Clancy
Cllr  Mario  Creatura
Ian  Parker

Cleaning up Coulsdon with youth group
27/11/2016 10:23:00......Posted by Luke Clancy


Supporting a project yesterday at Coulsdon Community Centre in Barrie Close, Coulsdon, cleaning up fly-tipping and overgrown vegetation on the verge to the entrance to the centre and painting and improving it.

One of the youth groups decided they wanted to create a feature to stop fly tipping in the flower bed on the approach to their youth centre. Croydon Council officers supported the group in finishing the project by supplying paint and planting.

Large childrens toys, empty paint buckets and piles of rotting wooden planks were just some of the fly-tipped items we pulled from the bushes. The young people who volunteered and assisted these efforts are to be applauded for their sense of citizenship.

Return to Coulsdon Town's main page
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Aldi replies - and wants to meet
14/03/2018 17:24:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


At the start of the month we wrote to the CEO of Aldi UK to see if he would be willing to help fix the intolerable gridlock outside their very popular Coulsdon store.

We're grateful that he replied very swiftly which you can read here.

We're in the process of trying to agree a meeting time for both Aldi, Council Officers, Councillors and TfL. 



The saga with the Coulsdon Town toilet continues
07/03/2018 09:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


I've just been informed that the Council's Neighbourhood Safety Manager met with their contractors last week and they are in the process of ordering the replacement parts for the broken toilet door. These will hopefully be in by early next week and I'm told the Council will have the toilets open as soon as possible.

The Neighbourhood Safety South team are due to start some local engagement activities with businesses and residents. They are essentially looking to see if anyone can provide them with information as to whom may be responsible for vandalising of the toilet. It does seem rather coincidental that the same type of damage appears to occur on a semi regular basis. Hopefully this work will bear fruit and the Council can work with the SNT to stop the vandalism permanently. 

The emergency button inside the WC isn't working at present. The Council accepts the delay on fixing this is not good enough and has resolved to do their best to speed maintenance up.

I've sent in several additional questions (including the potential use of camera's) and I'm told I'll receive a response in the near future.



A letter to the CEO of Aldi UK about the issues with their Coulsdon Branch
02/03/2018 15:19:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


Dear Mr Barnes,

We write as elected representatives for Coulsdon Town Centre, the location of one of your stores.

We wrote to you on 4th December 2017 outlining our hope that you might be willing to work with us to resolve the intense congestion caused by your very popular local store. In that letter we politely suggested that a site visit with ourselves and with an appropriate Aldi representative would be beneficial. Sadly to date we have not received a reply or an offer to meet.

The issues are continuing to exacerbate car congestion in the centre of our town, with our passionate local Residents’ Associations agreeing with our ambition to find a practical, long-term solution.

The popularity of the store causes the car park to fill up quickly. This causes long queues (see right) that block the entrance, block the roundabout, with queues often continuing down the Brighton Road. This has a knock on effect on Transport for London buses and other motorists who do not intend to visit the store. Locally this is causing frequent instances of frustration and road rage that have involved the local police.

We would very much appreciate an urgent meeting with an appropriate Aldi representative, which we would arrange with representatives of Transport for London, Croydon Council planners and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team to discuss design-led proposals that could benefit of our residents and your customers.

By working together we are sure we can find a solution. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Kind Regards,

Cllrs Jeet Bains, Luke Clancy and Mario Creatura – councillors for Coulsdon West ward

Chris Philp MP - Member of Parliament for Croydon South

Steve O’Connell - London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton



Future of Coulsdon Yulefest Christmas lights put at risk
24/02/2018 15:34:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


I've just heard about something rather troubling that could seriously affect the future viability of our phenomenally successful Coulsdon Yulefest's each year.

I've written to the Labour Cabinet Member responsible, Cllr Manju Shahul-Hameed, to ask for an explanation and her support:

'Over the last few years, Coulsdon West councillors have used their community ward budget to fund the Christmas lights in Coulsdon Town. This has been done in many other wards across the borough including Thornton Heath and Old Coulsdon.

They are immensely popular, and we are proud to have been able to help our community in this way.

I have just been informed that Skanska have written to the organisers of the Coulsdon Yulefest to demand payment for the electricity for running the festive lights. This has come as a complete surprise to the team of volunteers who make no profit when putting up these lights and running the festival.

All monies raised go to funding the running of the festival, the putting on of entertainment and publicising our town which serves to benefit the local economy and wider community spirit. 

In five years of putting the lights up, the volunteers have never been asked to pay for the electricity. The Skanska representative has said that historic payments are not required, but that in future this is changing.

The estimate for the bill is some £200 - a very small sum for the Council but a huge amount for local fundraisers who give up much of their year to arrange our annual festival.

I would like to ask:

  • Do you feel it's right that community volunteers should be asked to fund the cost of the electricity for Christmas lights?
  • The historic waiver implies that the payment is new, and only recently has come into force. Was this with your knowledge and consent?
  • Could you please investigate and detail the reasons for Skanska implementing this community levy?
  • Dozens of residents' groups across the borough spend thousands of hours a year putting on free events, festivals and meetings to help stimulate their local area. They are the very fabric that makes Croydon the place we all love. What message do you feel it sends that the Council's contractor is adding further barriers to those groups wanting to help their neighbourhoods?
  • Will you please do all that you can to stop these charges going forward?

The fundraising is a yearly slog - anything the Council can do to remove this disincentive then that would be very welcome by my residents.'

I'll update the blog when we hopefully have a positive response from Cllr Shahul-Hameed.



Broken bog strikes again
17/02/2018 18:51:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


The public toilet in Coulsdon Town, next to the Aldi, has been an ongoing problem for our town:

  • 6th May 2015 - I noticed it was broken and asked the Council to fix it.
  • 4th September 2015 - again it was broken, and taking too long to be fixed.
  • 23rd December 2015 - it was still broken - but I was assured it was almost to be repaired.
  • 14th January 2016 - it was finally open, finally fixed after waiting since September 2015!
  • 26th April 2016 - that didn't last long... For the two months preceding this post the toilet had no running water and the doors were unable to be locked. Thankfully in time it was fixed.

Over the last week it was brought to my attention that the toilet was broken - again. A resident in a wheelchair had needed to use the facility, when wanting to leave the toilet found that the handle was broken and that he could not leave. Only by calling a local friend was he able to escape.

This is completely unacceptable. I have spoken to the resident at length who has taken it all in good humour, but serious questions need to be answered about why this was allowed to happen:

  • What is the process for inspecting and maintaining public facilities?
  • When was the last time this toilet was signed off a clean/in good working order?
  • What is the security provision for protecting these sites from ne'er do wells who may wish to vandalise public property?
  • What is the procedure for the 'emergency call' buttons in the facilities? Residents who have tried to use it tell me that the support out of hours is limited and next to useless.
  • What lessons can be learned by the repeated issues with this toilet and others like it?

I have spoken to the Coulsdon Safer Neighbourhood Team who have very generously said they will keep an eye on the toilet when doing their rounds.

I am reassured by the correspondence I've had with the Council engineers but I will continue to raise this at the highest levels to ensure good service for my residents - no matter the issue.



Speech on fly-tipping in Croydon
31/01/2018 07:06:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


On Monday's Council meeting I gave a speech on fly-tipping in Croydon - you can watch the speech here or read a transcript below:

I am pleased so speak in favour of this motion tonight, a motion that promotes a positive, proactive vision for boosting tackling the menace of fly-tipping in Croydon.

It’s something that residents right across the borough tell us is sorely needed. Despite what you hear from Labour’s spin rooms, the record of the current administration is one of downright failure.

The Evening Standard only in October last year revealed that Croydon was one of the worst boroughs in London for fly-tipping, the only borough south of the River Thames with a ‘high’ fly-tipping rate. Yet if you listened to our Labour-run Council, everything is wonderful!

Let’s look at the stats, in black and white, tell a different story: 2013-14, the year Labour took control of Croydon Council, and compare it to the latest stats from the Office of National Statistics:

-        Across London, fly-tips increased by 12% in that period.

-        Across England, it went up by 18%.

-        But in Croydon? It went up by a whopping 64%!

64%! If that isn’t concrete proof of a Labour Administration desperately out of their depth, then I don’t know what is.

To make matters worse, Croydon has the second highest clean-up costs of any London borough – even that would be bearable if it were effective. But it’s not. Our clean-up costs are only surpassed by Enfield, who deal with three times as many. 38% of our total clean-up bill goes on clearing just 8% of Croydon’s fly-tips! The unrepentant waste from our Labour Council is astounding. Think what we could do with that taxpayer money if it was run properly!

Where is the proactivity? Where is the innovation? Where is the real, tangible impact on improving the cleanliness of our borough? Cllr Collins is like the Wizard of Oz - big PR campaigns! Huge posters! Emails and leaflets galore! But peak behind the Wizard of Croydon’s curtain and you’ll see a propaganda machine in over-drive, Veolia contracts spiralling out of control and a small, scared Labour Party desperately hoping they can distract residents for just long enough that they cling on at the election in May.

But the people of Croydon aren’t fools. They know fly-tipping has got worse in the last three years – on Labour’s watch.

The people of Croydon aren’t fools. This closed and secretive Labour Council would do well to remember that, because their time hoodwinking our town is just about up.



Full openness and transparency on Brick by Brick?
25/01/2018 15:42:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


'n a press announcement released on the 22nd January, the Council said:

'Developers in Croydon will now have the viability appraisal submitted as part of their planning applications made public.'

Cllr Alison Butler, Labour Cabinet member responsible, is quoted in the release as saying: “This is good news for Croydon residents. The publishing of these appraisals will make the council’s work with developers much more transparent and enables the public to hold both parties to account."

In that spirit of openness and transparency, I've asked if Cllr Butler will commit to implementing this policy retrospectively - and in particular agree to swiftly publish the full list of viability appraisals for all Brick by Brick schemes that have been already granted planning permission.

Update: 26th February 2018

Cllr Butler has replied:

'I welcome your support for having viability assessments made public but I am somewhat bemused by your reference to Brick by Brick. I appreciate your concern that developers may submit applications where they use ‘viability’ as an excuse not to provide affordable housing, so why you have chosen to target Brick by Brick, who are bringing forwarded levels of affordable housing beyond that which is required and far beyond the majority of developers submitting applications in Croydon, is a mystery.

The decision to make development viability assessments publically available was taken towards the end of 2017, in response to the Mayor of London’s Affordable Housing and Scheme Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance and our own desire to increase the transparency with such information and processes.

To maintain a level playing field, we decided not to publish viability reviews retrospectively (especially those relating to schemes where planning applications have been previously determined or where negotiations have reached an advanced stage). A number of recent applications for planning permission (submitted by Brick by Brick) include viability appraisals which seek to determine the most appropriate level of affordable housing and housing tenures and these can be viewed via the Council’s web site.'

So it appears she doesn't think that the housing company she created, and the planning permissions granted by her party-dominated Planning Committee, shouldn't have to publish the reports that tell the public if they have any prospect of being built.

Funny that.



Council plans to demolish Community Centre and cut parking in Coulsdon
01/01/2018 18:21:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


The Labour-run Council has recently put in a number of planning applications which will:

  • Demolish the Coulsdon Community Centre on Barrie Close and replace it with 33 flats
  • Move the Centre to the old CALAT site, cutting its parking provision by 1/3
  • Erect flats for some 237 residents, whilst cutting public parking provision in Coulsdon

I have written to the Council objecting to these plans. You can read my full arguments below. If you could like to do the same you can visit the applications and easily post your views: plan to demolish the Centre are here and the plans for Lion Green Road are here.

The more who object, and the more who attend the Planning Committee where it'll get decided, the more likely it is to be thrown out. I hope the Council will listen, and I'll be working with my fellow Councillors to do just that!


I would like to please object to two linked applications 17/06216/FUL and 17/06297/FUL and refer them both to the Planning Committee for refusal.

Taking them each in turn:

17/06216/FUL - demolition of existing community centre and erection of 33 residential units comprising 4 one bedroom flats, 12 two bedroom flats and 17 three bedroom houses, together with provision of car parking, landscaping and other associated works). My reasons are as follows:

1.     There is no compelling case for the Council owned and run development company to use Croydon taxpayer funds to relocate the Coulsdon Community Centre given its immense popularity with the thousands of residents who use it on a regular basis. It is fine where it is and has served its community very well under its current management committee.

2.     Parking is already very heavily congested at the section of Chipstead Valley Road that the Centre currently occupies, including the perpendicular roads of Coniston and Sherwood. One space per property for 33 properties is not enough for these new builds and will only make parking worse for those residents already in the locale - particularly those in Barrie Close.

3.     As the new proposed development is up hill from existing properties there is fear from the many residents who have contact me that they will be able to look down directly into bedrooms and bathrooms of existing properties, seriously affecting privacy and security.


The council’s own Development Presentations for item 5.1 of the Committee Planning Agenda for 21 November 2017 state: “Thought should be had in terms of mitigating the loss of privacy experienced at these properties, perhaps through landscaping provision.” The planning statement’s claim that “existing residents [sic] amenity is protected” is therefore contradicted by the council’s own documentation, and nothing has been included in the design to mitigate this issue.

The 21st November 2017 Development Presentations for item 5.1 of the Committee Planning Agenda state:

“It is considered that 3 storeys would be an appropriate maximum height for the properties to avoid the development having an overbearing impact on the surrounding 2 storey context. It is important that only the rooftops of the properties are visible through the trees from the surrounding area to be consistent with local character.”

The design of four storeys high is therefore contradictory to the council’s own development presentation. A reduction in the height/size of the development should be considered to mitigate these very real fears.

4.     There is fear that the removal of trees will negatively impact the local ecosystem.

5.     It is well known that the sewage system on this part of Chipstead Valley Road has overflown several times in recent years, adding this many properties to the outflow without heavily investing in underground sewage infrastructure is believed it will only make the problem worse.

6.     There are a large number of other residential developments that are either in construction, have been recently finished or have recently been approved including the hundreds of homes on Cane Hill, the Lion Green Car Park development, new flats at 177 Chipstead Valley Road, new flats at 193/195 Chipstead Valley Road etc. all with insufficient parking provision. Altogether, this will result in around an extra 900 dwellings in Coulsdon. Without any planned changes to the town’s infrastructure – especially with regard to trains, roads and schools – this is a clear case of over-development.

7.     The loss of the existing Coulsdon Community Centre building would be a sad event. The building dates to 1935 and has much architectural and historic interest to the local community. It is well-used, with 95% occupancy rate. Last year Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Labour Cabinet Member for culture, praised the community services offered by the Coulsdon Community Centre and has cited it repeatedly as an example of best practice in the borough. Demolishing this Centre seems entirely contradictory, hypocritical and destructive to our community.

17/06297/FUL - redevelopment of site to provide 5no. five, six,seven storey buildings providing 96 one bedroom, 42 two bedroom and 19 three bedroom flats: provision of vehicular access, residential and town centre car parking spaces, hard and soft landscaping works and new private and public amenity space.

1.     Out of keeping with the local area: the 7-storey buildings are at the back of the site where the elevation is higher.  The plans appear to reduce the elevation from the current level, however I believe the development will appear to be more like 8-stoeys above St Dunsten’s Cottages.

2.     The previous plans for this site proposed a non-residential development of four-storeys. This is significantly higher than that, and all other properties in the locale. Consideration should be considered to revise this application so that the height-limit is protected and therefore in keeping with the local area.

3.     There will be a loss of light to the rear of St Dunsten’s Cottages and Wells Cottages not to mention a loss of privacy at rear of St Dunsten’s Cottages homes, in back gardens and to Wells Cottages.

4.     St Dunsten’s Cottages are part of a Local Heritage Area.  The view of the cottages with towers over them will result in a significant loss of their aesthetic charm. There is deep concern that the huge scale of this development will put that at risk, harming the character of the local area which should be protected.

5.     Impact of increased traffic and changing traffic flows at the Chipstead Valley Road/Lion Green/Woodcote Grove Road junction.  This is further impacted by the development of the Coulsdon Community centre and the increased capacity planned at Smitham School.

6.     The Traffic Assessment makes no mention of the Chipstead Valley Road/Lion Green/Woodcote Grove Road junction. This surprised all of us as anyone local to the area would see the contact queue of traffic at that junction. Adding to this daily misery for my residents should not be something actively pursued by this Council.

7.     The biggest reason for objecting to this application, however, is lack of consideration for the increased strain on local infrastructure that the at least 237 additional residents (96 x 1; 42 x 2 and 19 x 3) will have. Virtually everyone agrees that Coulsdon needs more parking. The site has historically had 350 parking spaces, now cut to 115.

8.     The current Lion Green Road car park has over 100 of its 115 spaces used nearly all day. In the context of the rest of the town, there is no argument for reducing this provision:

o   The CALAT car park has 35 well-used spaces.

o   Aldi car park is often full with four or more queuing and over-flowing into the main road, obstructing public transport and other vehicles.

o   Waitrose car park likewise is often full with a couple queuing and some obstruction of passing traffic. 

o   The side roads with free bays or no controls are also heavily parked - notably The Avenue, The Grove and South Drive. Other roads with no charges are also well parked.

9.     Continued reduction of parking provision will continue to strangle local businesses, harm the environment through increase pollution and over-burden our straining local infrastructure. This is not the first time that I’ve written to the Council or spoken at Planning Committee on this subject!



Objecting to the Purley Skyscraper
27/12/2017 23:06:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


In the new year the planning inspector will be holding a series of public hearings to investigate the controversial Purley Baptist Church site. Below is my submission, do feel free to send in your views to as soon as possible.

Reasons for objection:

1. Excessive height, out of keeping with the local area

The tallest building at present in Purley is four to five floors. The plan you are adjudicating is for 17-storeys. This proposed scheme is therefore around five times taller than the average building in Purley.

The local character would be change utterly if this scheme was allowed to progress - indeed the next nearest 17-storey building is roughly 2-3 miles further north into Croydon town centre. The building would cast a literal shadow in the local area, and is the main reason why I feel this should be opposed.

2. Density of the development

The scheme exceeds the upper end of the density reference range as specified in the London Plan, when taken as a whole. It exceeds the upper end of the range by 17%, the lower end by 308% and exceeds the mid-point of the range by 82%. The proposed development is denser than the current London Plan allows for in a setting such as this one.

3. Harming local views

One of the attractions of living in the wider Coulsdon area is the wide expanse of park land and green spaces that local residents can enjoy. Farthing Down, further into the south of the borough, has a protected panoramic view as stipulated by the Croydon Local Plan. The Purley Baptist site development would be clearly visible the Downs and impact the protected view this protected panorama. It has been estimated that at least the top 25m of the tower (around eight storeys) would be clearly visible.

4. Construction on a flood risk site

Purley, in particular the area surrounding the Purley Baptist site, has experienced severe flooding over the past decade. The most recent extreme example is from February 2014 when the whole underpass at Purley Cross was completely underwater.

The current design of the building does not mitigate for flooding, taking extra precautions to ensure whomever lives in the building are protected. The high risk of flooding is noted in the Croydon Local Plan and construction on such sites is to be 'avoided' according to the NPPF.

5. Not enough parking (and other local infrastructure)

As one of the local councillors, by far and away our biggest complaint from residents comes not from the principle of construction, but from the lack of due care given to planning for the impact an increase in residents will have on local infrastructure.

Local roads are already severely congested, but this is exacerbated by developments approved without commensurate off-street parking. For the 220 flats proposed in the development there are only 37 parking spaces provided. Croydon's current administration bizarrely never usually sees this to be a problem in granting applications, but even they (in their planning report for the Planning Committee) admits that the development needs at least 165 car spaces (paragraph 8.149).

Section 8.147 of the same report recommends that future residents of the scheme are excluded from residents parking permits. This will cause parking chaos on other roads, forcing residents to compete for the same level of space in the surrounding area. The argument that residents choosing to move there will forgo their vehicles due to the proximity of Purley train station is fallacious - every one of those new residents will think that other new residents will either not own or not bring their cars, and the congestion will continue to increase.

Local opinion

The local residents are passionate defenders of the integrity of their community. It is an area that is well-integrated into the fabric of Croydon, with main transport routes and major road intersections meeting in the area. It is for this reason and in this context that the overwhelming opposition of residents to this scheme should be considered.

So far the GLA member; the Member of Parliament; at least 15 of my fellow local councillors and seven residents' associations are opposed to this development. You will hopefully be aware that when the application was first heard in the Council it received 616 formal responses, with 551 of those objecting - one of the highest reactions for any application in the history of the borough.



Labour hypocrisy over 'support' for local taxis
20/12/2017 09:03:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura


A few week's back I asked Labour Cllr Mark Watson about his views on local taxis and the huge increase in tax being forced on them by the Labour Mayor of London.

He replied saying that he 'believe[d] mini cabs should be regulated' and they 'should pay their fair share of tax'.
On 15th September, Transport for London's Finance Committee issued a report on taxi license fees revealing the following licensee tax increases (see left).

Transport for London is controlled by the Labour Mayor of London. As such, I asked him if he beleived this massive increase in tax on local small businesses is 'fair' as he stated previously. To this he answered: yes.
He told me earlier that he has 'met with local mini cab companies and continue[s] to support local, Croydon based companies'. I asked him if he will write to the Mayor of London opposing a nearly 1000% increase in tax for a mini cab company with just 51 cars. He said 'no'.

​The hypocrisy is simply astounding.



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 Older Blog Posts
What happens if the evidence changes on 20mph zones?
What's happening with the night-time economy report?
The future location of BoxPark
A question about Mud - and the viability of businesses in BoxPark
Aldi parking - just not good enough
Letter to Lloyds Bank
New lifts and bridge to be installed at Coulsdon South station
South Drive petition success - eventually!
Croydon joins Haringey in opposing Labour Party policy
Question on housing policy
Question on the recent tram strike
Speech on the Council's shocking Ofsted review
Accessibility improvements for Coulsdon South station
Objection to huge Sutton green belt construction project
Who is your Croydon Hero?
Questions on Knife Crime in Schools
Helping our Furry Friends!
Car park costs and spiralling rents killing small businesses
Labour failing affordable housing pledge
Croydon Labour refuse to support London National Park City campaign
Questions of Fire Safety in Council-owned blocks
Favouritism for Labour HQ repeat fly-postering?
Labour steals voice of Croydon voluntary sector
13 businesses stop street trading due to Labour's Sunshine Tax
Fire safety in Croydon Council buildings
Meeting HH Pope Tawadros II
Manchester and security in Croydon
The Pope visits Coulsdon!
Planned Lion Green Road parking spaces upped to 80, but falls short of demand
Permits at tip needed from April 2017
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