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.'
Cllr Godfrey replied some weeks later asserting that I was incorrect, that the administration did actually support the project. Read his reply and see if you agree...
'Councillor Creatura is inaccurate in suggesting that the administration is not in support of the Greater London National Park City campaign and similarly mistaken in calling for Croydon to be the first London borough to declare full support which was achieved in Islington and Ealing last year. As of February 2016, 220 voting wards out a total of 654 across the capital have declared their support via their local councillors. In Croydon councillors from 10 wards have declared their support.
As you are aware the aims of the London National Park movement are :
All Londoners will have free and easy access to high-quality green space
Connect 100% of London’s children to nature
Make 51% of London physically green
Improve London’s air & water quality
Improve biodiversity and connectivity between habitats
Inspire the building of affordable homes green homes
Inspire new business activities
Promote London as a Green World City
Nurture a shared National Park City identity for Londoners
A strong policy context already exists to support these aims within the Croydon Local Plan. Croydon also makes a significant contribution to the area of high quality green space within London with 25% of the borough being made up of recreational space and broad leaved woodland and a further 35% made up of residential garden space. Theoretically making Croydon at least 60% green.
Croydon therefore already exceeds the campaigns aspirations as a borough.
Council polices naturally align with those of the campaign as do those of Mayor Khan at the London Level. We warmly welcome Mayor Khan’s action to tackle air pollution.
We warmly welcome the campaign highlighting the importance of green infrastructure to London residents.
This mirrors our administrations founding of the borough group that brings together friends of parks, woodlands and green spaces across the borough. This ensures that the voice of all local parks are amplified and knowledge shared.
This administration believes that we need to improve the quality of our open space and the opportunities within those open spaces through ongoing investment in our Parks and Green Spaces across our borough. In this way we will be able to better support existing and new residents as this borough continues to grow.
This is all being achieved in the context of targeted cuts to Local Government. In Croydon that means that the Government has reduced our funding by 65.3% (cuts through to 2017) while continuing to fund other London boroughs more generously per head of population.'
Community Engagement 15/05/2018 20:00:00.......Posted by Ian Parker
I attended an excellent evening last night by the Army Engagement Group at Royal Russell School.
The Group want to connect with community representatives, businesses and others to give a better understanding of what they do. They achieved this last night. One useful contact they picked up was a representative from Janes Information Group based in Coulsdon.
Anyone interested in the Cadets and local Army-led projects involving young people would have found the evening worthwhile.
Thank you to those involved with its organisation. Time well spent. More information available from www.army.mod.uk/engagement
The fish that got away... 15/05/2018 10:16:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
This is close to the top of the oddest piece of casework I've had to deal with as a councillor - a very fishy tale.
It appears that in the middle of the night someone chose to dump some rather large fish (I'm not an expert but it looks like a shark...) in a commercial skip on Sandown Road.
Whilst many of the fish made it into the skip, one got away and was left on the road.
A very helpful resident donned a pair of marigolds and put it in the skip with the rest of its school.
I yesterday contacted the Council to see what could be done. While it's not a health hazard, there is a chance that if left long enough the smell could invite rats. The Council is getting in touch with the owner of the skip to see if it can be removed quickly. They're also sending Neighbourhood Safety Officers to investigate.
I've been reliably informed that it's not a shark, but a sturgeon. And that the resident used disposable gloves, not marigolds!
Portnals Pipe update 05/05/2018 10:25:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Following significant pressure from local councillors, Croydon Council has issued the below message to Thames Water:
'I’m writing with reference to the ongoing overflowing sewage issue on Portnalls Road, Coulsdon and the number of emails which have already been exchanged today.
I’m pleased to note that there is a tanker currently on site attending to the clear up of the sewage. However, this issue has been ongoing for several days. Although I appreciate that work is required to devise a permanent solution, we had been assured that the manhole was being cleared twice a day to prevent an overflow – this is clearly not happening or is not an adequate precaution given the situation yesterday evening and today.
The overflow of sewage is affecting a public footpath which is close to a school. I don’t have to point out the risks to public health from raw sewage, which are significant, and the situation is unacceptable. I am receiving regular complaints and emails expressing concern from the school, members of the public and elected members and I do not think it will be long before the local press are alerted to the situation.
My colleague in the council’s public protection service has already advised you about the potential for us to take enforcement action to deal with the ongoing risk to public health being caused by this situation. This would involve us serving statutory notices on yourselves requiring you to take remedial action, the notice carries the facility for us to carry out the works in your default and re-charge the cost to you. Depending on the legislation used, failing to comply with the notice could be an offence for which we could take legal action (prosecution) against you in the Magistrates’ Court.
We have already requested you to provide us with a plan outlining your proposal for a permanent solution, along with timescales, and I look forward to receiving this by Tuesday 8th May in order to avoid the need for us to take enforcement action against you. The situation will be closely monitored by my environmental health colleagues over the bank holiday weekend and enforcement action commenced should we not receive the requested information from you or if there are any further sewage overflows which are not cleaned immediately.
Can you also provide me with a point of contact leading on this case for the weekend so my officers are able to speak to them should the need arise.
For the interim and by return please provide reassurance that Thames are actively managing this unacceptable environmental situation and are providing a permanent presence onsite to deal with any surcharging until a solution can be found.'
Update: 8th May
Update from Croydon Council:
'We have received an update from Thames, in that they have identified the problem with the manhole which is overflowing and are hoping to connect to an alternative, existing sewer. This sewer is not a public sewer and they therefore need permission from the landowners, whom they have contacted to request this. They will update us on Thursday.
'In the meantime they have increased the frequency of pumping out the manhole to prevent it overflowing. Council officers will continue to monitor the situation.'
Update: 11th May
An update from Thames Water:
'Following my email of earlier this week I wanted to write with an update on the repair to the sewer on Portnalls Road.
'My colleague has spoken to the leaseholder of the field and he is happy for us to attend and construct the cross connection. This work is planned to start Monday or Tuesday next week. The sewer we are connecting into is also being lined to ensure its structural stability in the long term. The sewer runs close to the mature trees and the lining will protect it from future root ingress.
'Be assured that we are continually updating Council Officers of our works and will do throughout.'
Update: 18th May
From Thames Water: 'I just wanted to provide you with a latest update on the works in Portnalls Road. We have now completed the lining works. However, during our line search to construct the new cross connection pipe across the field, we found an existing pipeline. Initially we thought that this was a high pressure gas main. We contacted Southern Gas Networks, who have since reported that this was not one of their assets. We now believe that this is a pipe belonging to Esso and we are in the process of arranging a meeting with them.
'Neither Barrett Homes, nor the leaseholder of the field mentioned the existence of the pipeline to us in prior conversations.
'We continue to pump out of the sewer. We understand that this may cause minor disruption to local residents, for which we apologise. However this will only be a short term delay until we can get the correct authorisations in place to continue.'
CQC replies about the Coulsdon Medical Centre 01/05/2018 17:54:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Following our first and second letters to the Care Quality Commission on the closure of the Coulsdon Medical Centre, we today received this reply:
'Dear Cllr Clancy, Cllr Creatura and Mr Parker,
Thank you for your correspondence of 6 and 27 April 2018 written as representatives of Coulsdon West Ward, raising objections to the closure of Coulsdon Medical Centre. As the Acting Deputy Chief Inspector (London), Sir David Behan has asked me to respond to you.
I appreciate residents have made very positive comments about the care and treatment they have received from the practice over many years.
As you may be aware, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) registers and inspects services to make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate high quality care and encourage services to improve.
CQC has carried out three inspections of Coulsdon medical Centre. Following the first one in June 2016 we identified a number of patient safety concerns. The practice was rated Inadequate and placed into Special Measures. This process gave the practice time to seek support from relevant services to make the required improvements.
At the second inspection in June 2017, we were pleased to see significant improvements and we rated the practice as Requires Improvement and took them out of Special Measures. At our most recent inspection carried out in February 2018, we found some of these improvements had not been maintained with particular regard to patient safety. We have once again rated the practice Inadequate and placed them in Special Measures. The report following our last inspection was published on 18 April 2018 and can be found on our website at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-586172882?referer=widget3
I am aware of how popular a GP, Dr Khan is. CQC received many emails and letters from patients informing us of this. I also know that our reports have consistently made reference to the fact that Dr Khan is caring, considerate and kind to his patients. However, providing a good general practice is about more than being kind and responsive. They must be safe, effective and well –led and this practice has not been able to demonstrate this.
The Commissioners and NHS England have been aware of our concerns. They and other organisations have been providing support to Dr Khan and they have been in contact with him throughout the past two years.
It is disappointing to find that with this support Dr Khan has been unable to sustain the improvements and ensure the services provided are safe and effective, as well as being caring and responsive.
Thank you for raising your concerns with us and I hope my response answers your questions. If you have any further questions, please contact Emma Dove, Inspection Manager for South West London by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michele Golden, Acting Deputy Chief Inspector.'
Michele's letter is very helpful and informative - but it doens't advise us what the some 3,500 residents who are currently registered with Dr Khan should do. I have therefore written back to ask them to provide that guidance:
'Many thanks Alexandra.
Dear Michele - thank you for your reply to our letters. It is useful to understand your priorities, ones we entirely accept.
Whilst we entirely understand the priority to provide only the best service for our residents, the reply did not answer several of our questions: - What is the timeline for improving the Coulsdon Medical Centre from this point? Can a development plan be implemented to bring the Centre up to the standard required with supporting external assistance? Will a new GP be offered the practice? Is there a support mechanism in place to retain the service so that it doesn't cease to exist on the retirement of Dr Khan in October? - There are some 3,500 local patients at the practice. They have formally been told nothing about the closure. As their representatives we asked for some guidance about what they should do in the short to long-term? Should they register elsewhere, and if so where please? Many are understandably concerned and need reassurance as to what to do next, if anything.
Your help answering these important additional points from our letters would be appreciated.'
Burst sewage pipe on Portnalls Road 01/05/2018 17:30:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I today received a reply from Thames Water on the cause of the Portnalls Road pipe leak this past week:
'Dear Councillor Creatura
Thank you for your emails of 26 and 27 April. I can confirm that a full clean-up of the area has now been completed.
We have been aware of an issue with the sewer network affecting Portnalls Road since September 2017. This is a complex situation and our Field Operations Specialist has been involved in the investigation to determine the cause of the flooding.
Our current evaluation is the sewer pipe from the new development has been connected to the wrong pipework, which we believe to be redundant. In addition, we also identified a problem with the interceptor; however, this has now been repaired and at the time, we thought this had resolved the situation. We have also found concrete in the line.
We have identified a sewer pipe in an adjacent field which we believe we can divert to. This field is currently owned by the developer, from whom we need permission to access. We are visiting this week to obtain the necessary paperwork, after which we can then begin to plan our diversion.
In the meantime, we have arranged for our Waste Team to attend on a daily basis to check the levels of the manhole and if necessary will arrange for it to be emptied, if required.
I hope you find this information useful. I have asked a Senior Case Manager in our Executive Office, to continue to keep you updated...'
I have asked Croydon Council to urgently contact the developer to find the cause of the concrete and assure it doesn't happen again. I've contacted the developer directly myself asking to ensure that if it did happen on their watch, inadvertently or otherwise, that it doesn't happen again in future.
Leaking pipe on Portnalls Road 27/04/2018 13:26:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Yesterday parents from local schools contacted me to let me know that a pipe had burst on Portnalls Road, spewing effluent onto the road. Most unpleasant and unsanitary for local residents and those using the schools.
I immediately drew it to the attention of senior officers in Croydon Council and Thames Water and requested swift action to resolve it.
Thames Water attended soon after and initially worked to pump the pipe to stop further output from it. Today they confirmed that the cause of the issue was not a burst pipe but a serious blockage in the system. They have spent today working to remove that blockage.
Thames Water and Croydon Council have been working to clean the road and hope to have the area back in working order soon.
This is not the first time that this has occured at this location. Some have suggested that it may be due to the building works on Cane Hill, or an increased strain on the local infrastructure as a result of the development. There is currently no evidence for either of these hypotheses, but I have asked for Thames Water to feed back to me as soon as possible with their understanding of the underlying causes for this repeating issue.
Once we have evidence for the cause of the pipe leaking, we can work to address it.
I will continue to keep residents updated on the various local Facebook groups and on this blog as I receive more information.
The path was cleaned and with a high pressure jet and sprayed with disinfectant this morning. Thames Water have also scheduled a twice daily pump out at the manhole to ensure that they do not overflow again.
Currently, the sewer comes across the field from the new development and drops into a manhole on the embankment with an interceptor at the bottom which keeps blocking. Thames Water are working to divert this in the field. This land is privately owned and they are awaiting permission from the developer.
A second letter to the CQC about the Coulsdon Medical Practice 27/04/2018 09:25:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
Coulsdon Medical Practice, 66 Brighton Road, Coulsdon, S CR5 3EE
We write as representatives of the Coulsdon West ward of the London Borough of Croydon to reiterate our strong objections to the potential closure of the above Medical Practice in our ward.
We wrote to you on 6th April outlining our grave concerns at the closure of the very popular service, and requested both an explanation and guidance for the 3,500 patients who use the practice. We have yet to receive a reply.
Since news broke of the possible closure of the Coulsdon Medical Practice, many local residents have written to us expressing their shock and incomprehension at the decision.
We have seen the CQC inspection report of 18th April 2018 rating the practice as ‘inadequate’ in the areas of safety, effectiveness and leadership. We welcome the recognition that it has been rated ‘good’ for being caring and responsive. This echoes the 2017 NHS GP Patient Survey which ranked the surgery 6th out of 57 sites in Croydon with 94.58% of patients rating their overall experience as ‘good’. This does not appear to have been factored into your inspection.
We have recently learned that Dr Khan feels that he has no other option but to tender his resignation after 34 years of loyal local service. Like you, we want the best possible healthcare for our residents, but with demand for services in the area increasing we feel closure is not beneficial to providing that care.
As well as the information requests in our previous letter, we would welcome answers to the following:
What provision is being made to replace the ‘inadequate’ practice and ensure the service provision isn’t diminished and the quality is improved?
Is closure preferable to a managed development plan to improve the practice?
There are increasing demands for health services locally with huge developments taking place in the area. Was this factored into your inspection report?
We look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Luke Clancy, Cllr Mario Creatura, Ian Parker (candidate)'
Pigeon mess back under Coulsdon Town bridge 26/04/2018 15:46:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
The notorious pigeon mess of Coulsdon Town bridge is back with avengeance.
Over the last few years the Council and Network Rail had got a handle on the issue, installing strong meshing and other devices to keep the birds from nesting under the bridge and causing mess on the below pavement. Sadly in recent weeks they have evidently found a weakness in the defences and re-entered the cavity.
The Council is aware and working on a solution, and I've asked them to jet-clean the pavement as a matter of urgency. Those using buggies and wheelchairs should not have to go through the unsanitary environment currently in our town.
Paint disposal advice 25/04/2018 22:24:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
A resident on The Vale called me up today to ask for some guidance on disposing of old and unwanted paint tins.
She had apparently called up Croydon Council and spent forever in 12th position in the queue for the customer services department - so she gave up and gave me a ring instead!
Most residents won't be aware, but Croydon Council doesn't have the capacity to dispose of what they call 'hazardous waste' which includes asbestos or corrosive, flammable, explosive or toxic substances, oil - and paint tins.
Welcome £30m investment in Coulsdon South 25/04/2018 15:04:00.......Posted by Mario Creatura
I'm delighted with today's news that Coulsdon South station is to received a £30 million upgrade over the next two years.
Late last year Network Rail submitted a planning application to Croydon Council to install a new footbridge at one end of the station and to build new lifts and stairs at both platforms. At the time, we local councillors wrote very much in support of the plans.
The existing footbridge will be retained and remain in service
Platforms one and two will be locally widened to allow access to the proposed staircases, lifts and lift motor rooms.
The existing pedestrian access to and from the station remains unchanged along with the ticket office.
Network Rail’s route managing director for the south east, John Halsall, has said the plans willl make the station as a whole more accessible: “These improvements will make travelling by train much easier for people with reduced mobility, people with buggies, bags and bikes, and they will make a real difference to how people get around," he said.
"Train travel should be for everyone, and while there are historic reasons as to why not all our stations are accessible, we remain focussed on making improvements to as many as we can."
As a result of the works, the taxi office will be demolished and the waiting shelter as well as the bike shelters will be permanently relocated.
It is anticipated the works will be completed within the next two years.
Please do contact us with any issues or concerns you may have. We answer all our constituents' correspondence and value your comments. If you want your concern addressed by your local team, please follow the link above.