When you last had a chance to vote for the local council four years ago, were you asked for your views on the council building on public open space so that the developers could make more than £100million in profit? Can’t remember? That’ll be because you were not.
If you were asked whether it is a good thing to build five hideous tower blocks that would not look out of place in Ceaușescu’s Bucharest over a park opposite Croydon Grade II-listed Town Hall in a town centre that is already notorious for hideous brutalist tower blocks, what would you say? Good idea, or another absolute stinker from a discredited Tory council?
Well, less than a month before they seek re-election, and without any mention of the CCURV property joint venture with John Laing in Croydon Conservatives’ manifesto (largely because the local Tories have not yet produced a borough-wide manifesto to lay out any policies), the following six Conservative councillors last night gave approval to a scheme to build the ugly tower blocks on Queen’s Gardens.
Was meant to be retiring as a councillor for a safe Coulsdon ward at the elections. But the Tories in Croydon have so few members willing, or capable, of standing for the council, Osland has dutifully agreed to put his name forward once more, but this time effectively as a paper candidate in the Labour stronghold of Thornton Heath.
The local Tories must have thought it is bit of a joke to put forward as a candidate in a strongly minority ethnic neighbourhood the man who, when a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police, oversaw the mishandling of the inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Coulsdon East councillor who sits on both planning committees, and who will be coming knocking on some residents’ doors in the next month seeking their votes once again on May 22.
Wright will have also had a role (that is, voting the way in which he was told) in the Cane Hill planning permission decision, which is poorly thought-through and widely disliked by many locals.
But hey: you wouldn’t dare do something in the interests of the people who vote for you, when you can do something to help megabuck property developers add another few millions to their bottom line, now would you?
Next in this Rogues’ Gallery is Lynne Hale, who as well as dutifully collecting £21,371 a year in her councillors’ allowances for all her part-time work on behalf of the people of Sanderstead (do write in, dear reader, if you ever notice any impact from the efforts on your behalf of Mrs Hale), also holds down a state-funded job working for that renowned champion of the poor and the downtrodden, “Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway, the absentee MP for Croydon South.
Another Tory back-bencher who can always be relied upon to vote the “right way”, last night she delivered a lengthy, and some said deeply dull, pre-prepared speech about the merits of the CCURV scheme to build on Queen’s Gardens. It is unclear who may have written the speech for her.
Deemed not good enough to be re-selected by the local Conservative members in Heathfield ward – at least eight of whom bothered to turn up for the selection meeting – Helen Pollard will instead be seeking the votes of the residents of Fairfield ward come May 22.
But we think there’s a good chance it has something to do with Helen Pollard being married to the deputy leader of the Croydon Tories, Tim Pollard, and the need of their household to continue to bring in a lush £67,000 a year in councillors’ allowances for their part-time duties.
Suitably grateful to be given another chance to benefit from such generous largesse from the public purse, Helen Pollard duly voted as she was told last night, to build blocks of flats on a rare piece of public open space in … Fairfield ward.
A sitting councillor for Fairfield ward.
How many of the residents in her ward did Councillor Winborn consult for their views about the brutalist blocks being built on Queen’s Gardens which she approved blithely yesterday evening?
And how many residents will be as loyal with their vote for Winborn on May 22 as she has been loyal to her party whip in her career as a councillor?
Another Tory backbench councillor who has risen without trace, yet somehow manages to pocket more than £21,000 of Council Tax-payers’ money each year for his part-time elected duties.
Chatterjee will be standing once again in Shirley ward, alongside his party’s leader in Croydon, Mike Fisher.
The six Tory councillors above were all it took on the strategic planning committee last night, as the Conservatives’ in-built majority in such meetings gave them an advantage of one over five Labour councillors, who all voted against the scheme.
Given that the scheme is submitted by CCURV, the joint venture between developers John Laing and Croydon Council (the council provides the property, the builders the build), you might think that the local authority might want to do more to address the housing crisis in the borough by making more of the proposed 420 flats “affordable”. But apparently, that might adversely affect the development’s profitability.
There are many flaws with the scheme proposed on the site of the old council offices in Taberner House, many of which have been aired on Inside Croydon previously. In the officers’ report (which you can access by downloading from this link) they admit that fewer than 40 of the proposed 420 apartments to be built will have three bedrooms, even though the council’s own policies demand at least 20 per cent of all residential developments should be three-bedroom homes.
This, the officers say, “is considered acceptable given that the developer has indicated that market conditions could not support a higher proportion of three-bedroom units”. Oh well, if the developer says so, then it must be right. And if “the market” dictates what is required, then who needs a borough housing policy?
When consulted, English Heritage raised a number of strong reservations about the height of the blocks and the impact on the existing listed buildings. The Greater London Authority said that Croydon Council should “ensure that the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing is achieved in accordance with strategic and local policy…”
They added: “Further efforts should be made to increase the level of family housing”. Such as affordable, three-bedroom properties, for instance.
But last night, the six Tory councillors voted for a development which will offer only 15 per cent of the properties – around 65 – as affordable homes. Housing crisis? What housing crisis? These flats will be marketed at well-heeled Yuppies, to help max out the development’s profit, and also to Gerrymander votes in the marginal parliamentary seat of Croydon Central.
You might want to consider whether you are voting for someone to represent you, or someone who unaccountably represents multi-billion development interests when casting your vote in the local elections on May 22.
- Advisors reject Taberner replacement as ‘Eastern bloc’
- Council wants to build high-rise flats on Queen’s Gardens
Recent Inside Croydon election coverage:
- The list of candidates for the May 22 local elections
- Telegraph poll suggests UKIP poised to win Town Hall seats
- Tea-time leaflet leaves Easter egg over faces of Waddon Tories
- What Barwell fails to tell you and the myths of Council Tax
- Council allowances and local politicians’ secret consensus
Coming to Croydon
- Shabden Park Farm Lambing Open Day, Apr 26
- Stop The Incinerator Beer and Bingo fund-raiser, Apr 28
- Future of Crystal Palace debate, Apr 30
- Groundwork River Wandle project workshop, Apr 30
- David Lean Cinema: The Railway Man, May 1
- Groundwork River Wandle project workshop, May 1
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, May 4
- Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce Question Time, May 7
- David Lean Cinema: Wadja, May 8
- Coulsdon Euro election hustings, May 8
- David Lean Cinema: Blue Velvet, May 10
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19 (confirmed)
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
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