February looks like being a month of meetings and protest in Croydon, as local residents air their discontent over the council’s plans to abolish the Neighbourhood Partnerships, for the “massive” saving of just £60,000 per year.
The Neighbourhood Partnerships were supposed to be subject to examination by the council’s own scrutiny committee, but after a meeting arranged for the end of November was cancelled, the council announced that it was going to shut down the Neighbourhood Partnerships at the end of December without going through the scrutiny process.
That was until someone pointed out to the council bigwigs that it is actually in Croydon Council’s constitution that it should support the Neighbourhood Partnerships, to consult and liaise with local residents and the police.
“They couldn’t scrap this support without changing their own core constitution. But they hadn’t realised this when the came to their initial decision. And how much do we pay them?” one disillusioned insider told Inside Croydon.
You’d think NPs are the epitome of “Call me Dave” Cameron’s “Big Society” thing.
Indeed, Eric Pickles’ Department for Community and Local Government said only in November: “We are helping to create a free, fair and responsible Big Society by putting power in the hands of citizens, neighbourhoods and councils” (our italics).
Seems like Croydon Council’s Tory leadership copped a deaf ‘un when that was issued by their bosses in Whitehall.
And what do you get if you take “society” out of “Big Society”? Our council wants to introduce monthly “Cabinet Roadshows”, which sound like something ghastly that Dave Lee Travis used to host for Radio 1 at the seaside in the 1970s. These meetings, the council claims, will cost just £5,000 per year.
So now Cameron’s Crazy Croydon Council is going through the process of consultation, before it closes down the Neighbourhood Partnerships as it originally intended (please forgive the cynicism… Of course, the council could yet prove us to be wrong).
John Cheetham, who chairs the Croydon NPs network, said recently,“The Partnerships are virtually the only non-political public forum in Croydon where ordinary residents can hold our council and politicians to account.
“I believe in Neighbourhood Partnerships and I believe in local residents having their own voice in addition to that of elected councillors.”
Residents are asked to turn out for their local consultation meeting, or to participate by sending in your comments online or signing the council’s petition page. And if you cannot make the date of your most local meeting, it ought to be possible to attend another one of the meetings to air your views.
Nearly 50 people attended a meeting for the Norwood and Selhurst neighbourhood held last month, although noticeably absent to hear residents’ views was the Croydon cabinet member responsible for pushing through the funding cut, Vidhi Mohan. Not that Mohan and his chums have already made up their minds, of course.
The dates and venues of the remaining meetings are:
- Tue 1 Feb – Shirley High School, Shirley Church Road, Croydon CR0 5EF
- Wed 2 Feb – Applegarth Primary School, Bygrove, Fieldway, New Addington CR0 9DL
- Mon 7 Feb – Parchmore Youth & Community Centre, 55 Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath CR7 8LY
- Tue 8 Feb – Norbury Baptist Church, Semley Road, Norbury SW16 4PS
- Wed 9 Feb – St Mildred’s Community Centre, Bingham Road, Addiscombe CR0 7EB
- Tue 15 Feb – Old Coulsdon Congregational Church, Coulsdon Road, Old Coulsdon CR5 1EH
- Wed 16 Feb – Salvation Army Citadel, Booth Road, Lower Church Street CR0 1XY
All meetings start at 7.30pm.
For further information about the options and possibilities, visit the website here.