Last night's Council meeting
19/04/2016 20:55:00......Posted by Mario Creatura
Fairfield Halls debate
Last night's Council meeting was as boisterous as ever. Over 11,000 residents signed a petition calling on Croydon's Labour Council to phase the redevelopment of Fairfield Halls. The campaign has been supported by the Conservatives, lead by a Labour member and endorsed by the local Green, UKIP and Liberal Democrat parties.
The Council debated whether it supported or opposed the premise of the petition. You can watch the debate online here. Sadly due to a convenient technical fault, you start the video during the last sentence of Andy Hylton's (the lead campaigner) speech. Despite protestations from Conservative councillors, Andy was not allowed to repeat his speech.
If you want to skip to the vote of the council, you can see that here. Sadly the Mayor decided that the vote was counted by a shout of 'aye' or 'no' rather than a show of hands. As Labour has 40 councillors to our 30, Labour won the vote to cried of shame and booing from the campaigners in the public gallery.
Coulsdon parking petition
Last night I handed in a petition with 878 signatures from Coulsdon residents who are objecting to the Council's plans to break their manifesto promise and reduce one-hour free parking in Coulsdon town centre. You can watch this online. It's worth noting that the Traffic Management committee where the final decision will be made is on 26th April. The meeting starts at 6.30pm and will take place in the main Council chamber of Croydon Town Hall. All residents are welcome to join me in objecting to this proposal, the more the merrier!
Protecting Croydon's Libraries
The Conservatives proposed a motion for debate:
This Council believes that Croydon's libraries should be kept as centres of books and learning and not turned into bookish gyms or bookish cafes as they have been in Labour Lambeth. It also believes that library branches should be run by professional staff and librarians and not rely on volunteers alone.
You can watch that debate here.
The reason for the collapse of Lion Green Road
After months of obfuscation, we learned that the reason for the mysterious collapse of the Lion Green Road development was due to a single report by the developer released just before Christmas 2015. The report apparently reveals that the cost of construction materials and land values have fluctuated so much that the scheme was now no longer viable.
Council officers have refused to allow me to see this vital document, so almost a month ago I asked Cllr Newman, Labour Leader of the Council, if he could release the document in the interests of openness and transparency. After receiving no reply from Cllr Newman, I asked him publicly for access to the document. You can watch the exchange here. I'm grateful for Cllr Newman saying that "there is no reason, I would imagine, that I'm aware of, for you not to see that paper" and I look forward to receiving the document in due course.
A leaflet has been distributed in Coulsdon by Croydon Labour quoting Labour campaigner Charlie King as saying: "I am delighted the Labour council is listening to Cousldon [sic] residents. The local Labour Party would like to see housing on the site..." For my second question I asked Cllr Newman whether his Labour administration supported their party leaflet. He was less than clear as you can watch here. We were not satisfied with his non-answer so my colleague Cllr Bashford
tried to ask for a second time here where he confirms that "we are looking at all options". A worrying development for a town where the infrastructure is already struggling with a large and growing population.
Talking about Coulsdon West
Last night I was also given the opportunity to speak on issues facing Coulsdon West. I focused my remarks on parking challenges and the mystery surrounding the collapse of the Lion Green Road scheme. You can watch my speech online, or read a rough transcript below:
'It’s a pleasure to be given the opportunity to speak about my ward, Coulsdon West.
Earlier this evening, I presented a petition concerning a subject close to the heart of many of my residents: parking. 878 signatures on a petition calling on the Council to honour their manifesto pledge and keep one-hour’s free parking in district centres. In total over a thousand of my residents have contacted the Council on this one issue alone. One wrote to me saying: ‘Residents are increasingly faced with broken promised given by politicians… It is time that these failures by these elected individuals supposedly representing us are made accountable in the public eye and by the electorate’. This is just one of hundreds of similar comments, noting the actions of this Labour administration.
In a similar vein, residents and councillors will have heard me ask the Council Leader why he has failed to reply to my email of almost a month ago asking for more transparency about the collapse of the Lion Green Road scheme. After a lot of digging, and months of obfuscation, we found out that it’s based on one single solitary report. A report that the Council isn’t letting elected councillors see. I have an email from Waitrose where they say they have no idea why the scheme collapsed, that they were ready and raring to go Madam Mayor! So why the failure? The Council claim it’s because the land value and construction costs have changed. Well, when you close a much-used car park for seven months and don’t do anything, what did they expect? We have been asked to trust the word of this secretive administration, blind faith that they are acting in the best interests of Coulsdon and Purley, when there is so much evidence to the contrary. Where’s their much paraded pledge to be open and transparent now? Why are they being so closed and secretive?
Well Madam Mayor, I think we know. This local Labour leaflet says they would like to see housing on the site. 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 on today’s figures. It’s well known that in Coulsdon our infrastructure is creaking. Schools are taking bulge classes, GP surgeries are struggling, roads are constantly jammed with traffic. Why does this Council want to add yet more people into my ward? What has Labour got against Coulsdon?
The Leader of the Council has said he thinks my residents are from ‘a bygone age’, a disgraceful comment about my residents. Those living in Coulsdon and Purley are fiercely loyal and will always fight for what’s best for our community. I’ll end with one comment from the parking petition, a comment that was repeated time and time again: ‘This current Croydon Council appear to be intent upon not providing any services of benefit to Croydon residents who live in the South of the Borough. As a Resident of the South of the Borough and an active Voter I shall ensure that they are not returned next time, enough is enough. They cannot be trusted.’
Thank you Madam Mayor.'