Labour calls for closure of “squalid” Croydon B&Bs

Croydon Labour has today called for the closure of the Gilroy Court Hotel, which provides emergency housing for many of the borough’s homeless, as featured on Newsnight

Croydon’s opposition Labour group has demanded the immediate closure of the Thornton Heath B&B hotel used by the council to house the borough’s homeless.

Labour has also demanded an independent inquiry into how the council has failed to take proper care of vulnerable homeless families, many with young children, such as those featured in a shocking report last week on Newsnight.

Labour described the accommodation featured on the BBC news programme as “the most appalling squalor”.

Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour group at the Town Hall, said, “I am utterly disgusted. Croydon Tories have sunk to new depths and should be ashamed of themselves.”

On the programme, Croydon’s Conservative-controlled council was accused by LibDem government housing minister Don Foster of acting “doubly illegally” towards its homeless, by providing sub-standard accommodation and leaving young families in the inadequate and squalid temporary B&Bs for longer than the maximum six weeks allowed under the law.

Alison Butler: wants inquiry into Croydon Council housing policy

Newman called on Mike Fisher, the leader of the Conservative group, to close B&B hotels which failed an independent inspection from an expert brought in by the BBC’s production team.

“Councillor Fisher must now apologise to those families who have been housed in such dreadful misery,” Newman said, describing the accommodation as “dangerous”.

Alison Butler, Croydon Labour’s spokeswoman on housing, said, “We are calling for the immediate removal of families from this low-grade accommodation.

“We are demanding that at the very least Tory-run Croydon Council conducts an independent public inquiry into the way it deals with homeless families. There can be no defence of this terrible injustice.”

Butler was also critical of Croydon Council plans to hand over responsibility for inspecting temporary accommodation – such as that used at the Gilroy Lodge Hotel on London Road – from an in-house environmental team to one run by Bromley.

Jon Rouse, the chief executive of Croydon Council, speaking on camera for the Newsnight programme, denied that the council was acting illegally and claimed that the Gilroy Court B&B on London Road was inspected on a weekly basis.

Butler called on the government to abandon plans to introduce a national cap on housing benefit which is likely to hit the poor in London hardest and so “bring untold misery to hundreds of families in Croydon”.

She said, “A Labour Council in 2014 will introduce an acceptable housing standard programme and launch a major building programme that will mean more high quality homes for local people.”

Last Thursday’s Newsnight has led to calls for Rouse to be sacked from his £248,000 a year job, while also prompting a U-turn from Croydon Tory spokesman Dudley Mead, who has joined the criticism of the government cap on housing benefit.

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
  • Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Alison Butler, Broad Green, Croydon Council, Dudley Mead, Environment, Housing, Mike Fisher, Thornton Heath, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Labour calls for closure of “squalid” Croydon B&Bs

  1. If Gilroy Court – dump though it is – were to close, where would the residents then go?

  2. Apparently, there’s quite a lot of available apartments at Altitude 25, and there will be plenty of vacant space in Bernard Weatherill House once it is finished…

  3. The Council has empty properties in Shirley: Bridle Road, Ash Road and Shrublands Avenue. I have been complaining about it for years. The properties should have been converted as soon as they became vacant and used for families.

    Mike Fisher is a Shirley Councillor and is fully aware of the matter. I have shouted at him often enough.

    Do we need a TV programme to act?

  4. Voids have always been a problem for Croydon Council’s housing department and, according to your correspondent, Marzia, they still are.

    There is no excuse for leaving local authority dwellings empty when there are people in need of a roof over their heads. If the property is unfit for habitation, it shouldn’t take a council contractor more than a few days to fix it.

    But the council’s brigade of box-tickers have always gotten in the way, and apparently still do, despite the fact that putting homeless people in hotels is always the least socially satisfactory option as well as the most expensive.

    Forgive my scepticism, but I don’t believe things will change substantially under a Labour administration. Following the BBC expose this is now a good bandwagon on which to jump, and Tony Newman, like many politicians, is a past master at that.

    But we shouldn’t forget that homelessness is a real blight, in particular on the lives of children, and too important a matter to be the subject of petty party point-scoring.

    If Mr Newman is serious let’s see Labour’s proposals for a fundamental change in housing policy across the borough; and let’s hear the party argue its case against the present administration and against the current government.

    In the BBC Newsnight programme, Mr Newman could have a national soapbox on which to air his party’s views; but first he needs something worthwhile to say.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s