Speech on Coulsdon West at Monday's Council meeting
27/01/2016 12:32:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
On Monday evening, I gave a speech about Coulsdon West. I chose to focus my remarks on the strength of our Residents' Associations and community groups as well as the current issues with Lion Green Road.
You can watch the speech here, or read the transcript below.
Madam Mayor, it is an absolute pleasure to rise to speak about the wonderful ward of Coulsdon West.
It is no surprise that my residents are a very community-minded bunch. Our residents’ associations are second to none in their passion for what’s best for their local area. I know that many in the Council will have experienced oftentimes daily correspondence from my residents. Never let it be said that the people of Coulsdon don’t know how to keep us on our toes!
Strong community groups, passionate about fighting for what’s best for their local area, holding us to account, constantly questioning our motives. Surely that can only be a good thing?
In Coulsdon we are all too aware that decisions taken in this place can have a dramatic impact on our community. The current debacle over what’s happening at the Lion Green Road site is a case in point. The Croydon Advertiser reported in November a Council spokesperson saying there would be ‘no delay’ in construction. Last week we learn that is no longer the case. What happened in those intervening weeks to collapse what was, according to the Council, a progressing scheme?
There is no avoiding that this development is a controversial one, but its shock collapse leaves questions that need to be answered:
- Why has it failed when the Council admitted in November that it was progressing?
- Why is the scheme no longer viable? When did the Council first learn it wasn’t?
- Closing the car park was always going to impact business and residents. Short-term pain with eventual gain is tolerable, but pain with no gain is inexcusable. Why was the car park closed seven months ago if the scheme wasn’t ever going to progress?
In the Advertiser the Council Leader is quoted as saying that my residents in Coulsdon are overreacting about the lack of parking, that they are “obsessed with the motor car” and that it “takes us back to a bygone age". Does he really believe it’s fair to say to worried residents that if you own a car, you aren’t wanted in Coulsdon? That your concerns aren’t valid? Madam Mayor, this is not a party political point: we need to know what this administration is thinking. It shouldn’t surprise them that people who own cars will want to use them, just like the Leader does when driving the ten minutes from his home to the Town Hall each day in his car.
By 2040 the GLA estimates the population of Coulsdon West will increase by over 40%, the third highest in the whole of Croydon – that’s an extra 5,000 people. Where will they live? How will public services need to evolve? What will the infrastructure look like to cater for their future needs?
I know these are questions that all of us here grapple with. They aren’t, by any means, easy to solve. But when looking to answer them we must approach the issues not from a rose-tinted political utopia but through an understanding of the reality of how people live and work in Croydon.