DIAMOND GEEZER reports from another Croydon residents’ open meeting which ward councillors did not manage to attend
A meeting on Thursday night heard how local residents from around Lansdowne Road in central Croydon “feel abandoned by the council”.
Signal of that feeling of abandonment was the absence from the meeting of all of the three Conservative councillors for Fairfield ward.
The meeting was called by residents living in the area off Park Lane, because of a series of concerns of crime and anti-social behaviour related to the local YMCA.
At the meeting, held on Thursday evening at the Bedford Tavern, the local MP – who did attend – was urged by his constituents “to put pressure on the senior management of the South London YMCA to accept their social responsibilities not only to their own residents but also to other residents in the area”.
Gavin Barwell, the Croydon Central’s MP, promised to go away with residents’ concerns and to seek solutions to their worries the anti-social behaviour of the customers, many of them homeless, of YMCA at Palmer House.
Residents also want the MP “to use his influence to ensure that Croydon Council also devotes proper resources to discouraging anti-social behaviour”. That could be a tougher task than it might appear, since the government department to which Barwell is a parliamentary private secretary is in the process of cutting Croydon Council’s government grant by 28 per cent.
Before the meeting, residents said that they had felt “extremely frustrated with South London YMCA’s intransigence”.
The residents group described the meeting as having been “very constructive” and opening a positive dialogue, with representatives from the police and from the South London YMCA in attendance.
Some at the meeting reported no trouble with residents at the YMCA but others were less impressed, reporting incidents of their gardens being used as urinals by YMCA customers. They were particularly critical about non-responses to telephone calls by the YMCA. The YMCA insists that they answer their phones 24 hours a day.
“We hope that the meeting will mark a new beginning for the relationship we as residents have with SLYMCA and that communications continue to improve,” said one of the locals.
Residents have been asked by the Croydon Lansdowne Residents’ Association to continue to write to the MP with reports of incidents involving customers of the YMCA – many of whom are homeless or have alcohol or drug dependence issues – and their practice of meeting acquaintances out in the street. The draft letter refers to increased crime and drug dealing near Palmer House.
There was a complaint about the absence from the meeting of the Fairfield ward councillors, Sue Winborn, Vidhi Mohan and David Fitze. Barwell defended the reputation of the experienced councillor team as being “normally good”.
Like his predecessor, Barwell seems to get more joy out of being a super-councillor rather than being an MP. It was a criticism of the Fairfield councillors that it took the MP to broker on these very local matters.
“There seems no excuse for not having one councillor attending and you would think that there would be a strong working relationship between politicians of the same political colour,” said another local at the meeting.
Fairfield councillor Fitze would seem to be very well placed to deal with the worries in the area. Fitze is chairman of the board of… South London YMCA.
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