CROYDON COMMENTARY: Delays in Westfield’s delivery dates, “speculative” office builds and dire economic warnings make an unhappy mix for those with a stake in our borough. STEVEN DOWNES asks: where’s the Plan B?
As an observer of modern trends, Simon Jenkins has an uncanny ability to look down the telescope from the wrong end.
Croydon Council’s deputy leader, Alison Butler, right, at yesterday’s Ruskin Square ground-breaking with Ian Mason of Schroder and Mary Parsons from the property managers Places for People
“Sir” Simon – the judgement of journalists who accept honours are about as trustworthy as politicians who seek similar awards – has been pontificating from on high, whether atop a column in the Grauniad, or weekly in the Evening Boris, for a quarter of a century.
The thing about Jenkins is that he takes a position and then sticks to it, however wrong-headed it may prove to be. According to Jenkins (circa 2004), the London Olympics would be a utter disaster, a total waste of money, we ought never have spent a penny in bidding for them. Two years on since London hosted what were almost universally acknowledged as the apogee of an international festival of sport, delivering massive dollops of joy, considerable new sporting infrastructure (at least north of the river), and the public capital spend of £9 billion has already been returned. “Sir” Simon’s not returned to that subject much lately.
Before that, Jenkins was shouting from the battlements that Canary Wharf would be a utter disaster, and so on and so forth… Yesterday, with Qatari investors bidding £2.2billion for the east London property enclave, even Jenkins was forced to write those three little words, “I was wrong”, about the development.
“Today Canary Wharf houses more than 100,000 workers. It may be a gated, gilded temple to Mammon, in perpetual isolation from the poor of east London, but as a development it has lifted off. It works,” Jenkins wrote in the Standard, presumably while munching on a mega-slice of humble pie.
“What does any of this have to do with Croydon?” I sensed you asking about three sentences ago. Because in his same weekly column, Jenkins also wrote about Croydon. Croydon, Jenkins proclaimed, is not “cool”.