Of the 80 bids made for the London Mayor’s Outer London Fund’s current round, dishing out £50 million, there was not a single application for cash from Croydon Council.
As they are fond of saying at the National Lottery, you’ve got to be in it to win it. So no surprise that when the Mayor’s office announced £32 million of successful bids, Croydon was not among the lucky winners.
In all, 23 schemes from outer London are benefiting from the funding. True, the Conservative Mayor is using money left over from Labour’s London Development Agency to court votes in May’s City Hall elections, so it is even more odd that Croydon’s not getting anything.
Ken Livingstone was not a big contributor to outer London himself when he was Mayor, although he would claim that a huge subsidy for increased public transport trickled its way to capital’s fringes. He did spend more than £35 million on the Coulsdon by-pass but the opportunity to re-generate Coulsdon Town Centre seems to have been fumbled since by Transport for London and the local council.
This is Round 2 of the fund’s distribution. Croydon did benefit from £515,000 for New Addington’s Central Parade in Round 1. The money there has to be spent by April, giving another hint that it’s targeted election spend. This also raises the prospect that the public’s money will not be spent efficiently when it has to be done in such a relative rush.
Inside Croydon called the London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell at City Hall. But he was not there on Thursday. Nor was he there when called again on Friday. Nor has Britain’s most overpaid local councillor returned the calls. So we are unable to offer his version of why he failed to get Croydon organised to get a share of the dosh.
Sutton, the other part of O’Connell’s London Assembly seat and where he also works as the Conservative Party’s Parliamentary spokesperson, has received £2,018,649.
Liberal Democrat-run Sutton Council, with a better financial record than Croydon, has the money to match the grant given from London government. As a consequence, Hackbridge and Worcester Park will benefit from shop front improvements and public realm improvements.
That’s something that riot-hit London Road traders and shoppers in Croydon might
have liked to have had.
Labour’s London Assembly candidate for the Croydon and Sutton seat, Louisa Woodley, said, “I am amazed that Croydon has received no money in this round. Steve O’Connell should have spoken out for his residents in Croydon who need this support after the riots.”
Tim Pollard is the deputy leader of the Tory-controlled council who is responsible both for economic development and children’s services and who, to his credit, does treat his political office as one to be applied with conscientiousness.
He believes that Croydon received more than its fair share when Boris Johnson came down to East Croydon (albeit via a blundering detour to East Dulwich) in the autumn to offer £23 million in post-riots money. Pollard notes that sum as being much bigger than other grants.
“Croydon did not submit a bid for the second round of the Outer London Fund by agreement with the GLA” Pollard told Inside Croydon. “The projects we would otherwise have bid for are now able to be funded from the £23 million recently announced by the Mayor to assist Croydon with its regeneration plans and riot recovery.
“We were, of course, also successful in the first round of bidding to the OLF, where we received £0.5 million for regeneration in New Addington. The GLA has announced that nearly £32 million of OLF Round 2 funding has been awarded for 23 projects in 18 boroughs with the largest single award being £2m.
“In this context, the money Croydon has already won is nearly 12 times the amount that anyone else has benefited from through the OLF second round. Croydon has a very positive relationship with GLA and we are grateful for the substantial support we have been receiving from them under the current Mayor.”
However, many people might have had the reasonable assumption that the £23 million was to cover monies that would have otherwise come to Croydon with an Enterprise Zone (another public funds scheme which Croydon Council, in its wisdom, decided not to pitch for) and to cover the £75 million local regeneration fund for Croydon which was cancelled by the government.
All of which does prompt questions about how effective O’Connell has been in delivering for Croydon. Let’s hope that some time between now and May, our £115,000 per year London Assembly member is in the office long enough to answer our questions on this and many other matters of pressing interest to the people of Croydon.
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Council complaints? Croydon makes it into worst 10 (insidecroydon.com)
- Twitter exposes O’Connell’s priorities over £1bn incinerator (insidecroydon.com)
- £115,000 man O’Connell refuses to support Living Wage (insidecroydon.com)