By Andrew Pelling
East Dulwich or East Croydon? Ahhh… an easy mistake for an Old Etonian Bullingdon club member to make when venturing deep into south London.
Boris Johnson came to Croydon (eventually) yesterday, weighed down with sacks of public money, our money, to help promote the his Mayor’s re-election campaign. But was that it? Was that all he had to offer?
The Mayor, living up to his reputation for dishevelment and disorganisation, was late. He had £23 million to offer Croydon. Let’s hope that money reaches its destination in a timely fashion, unlike the Mayor.
An unkind soul at the Develop Croydon conference suggested that the Mayor had gone to East Dulwich by mistake. Let’s hope it was not another short-coming of Transport for London.
The £10 million on offer for riot restitution, which Croydon CEO Jon Rouse admits Croydon has not been applied for nor paid out, so you don’t know how much credibility to give to these new promises of cash from Boris.
The £23 million is promised is for pedestrian crossings, some Public Relations and pump priming of private development. Croydon will see £5 million on promotional public relations to add to the already extraordinary spend on the Council’s press office. Another magnificent triumph of style (well spin), over the substantive social needs of Croydon.
Croydon will have improved pedestrian crossings on Wellesley Road and out at the back end of East Croydon station – again, public cash helping the private developers working on multi-million schemes.
A private shopping centre will get some of our hard-earned, tax-payer millions to tart it up.
There will be an improved £5 million interchange between public transport at West Croydon which could probably be done much more cheaply by just employing three people to open the back gate at the rail station (where the new Overground link into east London, instigated under the previous Mayor, is proving a great success).
Just how paltry the sum of money is when it comes to tackling Croydon’s challenges was underlined when Rouse, the man who actually runs Croydon, spoke to the £260 per head conference. Rouse was brutally honest about the scale of transformation needed in Croydon. He said that up to one-third of Croydon’s offices need to be demolished or completely refurbished.
But when you stack up the £23 million, it does not amount to very much against the £70 million lost to Croydon when Local Regeneration Funds were axed by the government, and the £30 million mislaid when the Council turned up its nose at Croydon being an Enterprise Zone with tax breaks for small companies creating local jobs, and the as yet undelivered £10 million funds to help riot-hit traders on London Road.
So let us be grateful for small mercies. At least the Mayor was polite about our women folk in the condescending fashion that only an Old Etonian could muster. Boris complemented the natives with his thought that Croydon produces some of the most beautiful and talented women in the country. Who could he have had in mind?
Boris was heckled for his faux charm about Croydon womanhood. He’d have been better criticised for short-changing Croydon’s economy.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Boris is back in town and Menta questions tower over O’Connell (insidecroydon.com)
- MP Wicks catches Boris offside over Spurs and £20m riot fund (insidecroydon.com)
- Cameron snubs Croydon again over Enterprise Zone (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon leads the way again: this time in police cut backs (insidecroydon.com)