At a time of austerity, when we are told that the people in charge of Croydon Council are seeking absolute value for our money, making every penny count, it is not unreasonable still to expect public works to be done to the highest standards, using best quality materials, to achieve real, long-lasting value.
But across the borough, from Addiscombe to Coulsdon, come worrying reports that millions of pounds of public money have been squandered and wasted by Transport for London because they have failed to meet basic quality standards, and in doing so have created hazards and danger for pedestrians.
At the weekend, our loyal reader went for a trip towards the tram stop on Lower Addiscombe Road and nearly suffered a trip of an altogether less pleasant kind. The local resident was very concerned at the shabby standard of workmanship going on with a set of public road works and “improvements” on the pavements there.
“It looked chaotic and I could not immediately work out what the point of the work was,” this local resident told us.
“I then realised that this was probably the money the council had been given by Boris to improve parts of Croydon. This work continues all the way up to the Co-Op store. It’s a health and safety nightmare and a potential death trap for any frail or disabled person trying to navigate the chaos.
“The materials used for kerb stones are out of character with the originals and seem over-sized. It looks like this may be an interim stage, as the idea ultimately could be to cover the area in a light grey stone paving. However this does not excuse the issues on the site at present.
“The kerb stones are not being laid correctly in fact the whole site looks a complete omnishambles.” What, you mean another one?
Our concerned reader in Addiscombe asks, “Who is responsible for commissioning the outfit supposedly responsible for this shambles and who is monitoring the work quality? The contractors seem to think that the solution to any laying problem is to pour loads of tarmac everywhere without any regard for the height or consistency of the surface.”
Road maintenance and funding in London is a nexus of funding responsibilities.
Our main roads – such as Purley Cross or the Purley Way – fall under the aegis of Transport for London, which is controlled by the Mayor of London. But our local council commissions much of the works on other roads.
Only last night at the Town Hall, Councillor Phil Thomas, the Croydon cabinet member responsible for environment and highways, was boasting that the council would this year spend £7.47 million on road maintenance works. It is abundantly clear to many local residents that this is not always money well spent.
Under the current Mayor of London’s administration at City Hall, with the backing of GLA member Steve O’Connell and his mates on Croydon Council, we have seen TfL:
- spend upwards of £1 million on five separate exercises with consultants in an effort to “smooth traffic flow” (one of Mayor Johnson’s favourite themes – sod pedestrians or cyclists) at Purley Cross, without any sign of improvement
- Boris promised 10 new trams, but ultimately, with a £3 million contribution from Croydon Council, has delivered just six. And these are all seven feet longer than the existing tram stops, requiring the platforms on the network to be lengthened
- they have spent £2.25 million on improvements at Purley town centre, including £14,000 on half a dozen wooden bollards – possibly “the world’s most expensive canine lavatories”
- and £3.5 million on another set of “improvements” in the centre of Coulsdon which are now having to be ripped up after barely three years because the work or materials were not of decent quality.
The poor planning and quality of the work in Coulsdon, requiring such expensive repairs so soon after it was conducted, has been of serious concern to residents and local traders.
“Since this scheme was originally installed it has become apparent that the materials used were not as appropriate for this location as had been originally expected,” a member of Croydon Council’s propaganda department said last week. “It is for this reason that the council is now working with TfL to lay a more robust and durable surface.”
“More robust and durable”? The Romans laid roads in Britain 2,000 years ago that were robust and durable. Why is our present council unable to supervise works that are capable of delivering the basic requirements of a two-thousand-year-old craft?
Peter Morgan, a leading local campaigner on parking issues, told a local paper that, “This whole project has been a scandalous waste of money.
“What annoys me most is that we told them it would not work when they first proposed it six years ago. It has never been OK; as soon as it was finished they started doing repair work.
“It is good to know they are going to sort it out, but I want to know who should be held accountable.”
Phil Thomas? Steve O’Connell? Boris Johnson?
- 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
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