Croydon’s opposition leader Tony Newman has today accused the Conservative group that runs the council of having sat back and done nothing – leaving “the markets to decide” – over the town’s struggling economy.
As many as 2,000 jobs are under threat or have left the borough just in the past six months. Yesterday’s dire news that Allders had called in the administrators during the department store’s 150th anniversary year, with nearly 1,000 full- and part-time jobs and dozens of concession businesses under threat, follows other recent hammer blows for Croydon businesses.
This includes more than 800 jobs lost as Nestle decided to move its headquarters from its home of 40 years on Park Lane because of Croydon Council’s failure to find a suitable alternative building.
Earlier this week, entrepreneur Harold Tillman, who seven years ago rescued Allders when the store was previously in administration, accused Croydon Council of failing to do enough to help local traders since the riots last August.
Today, Newman, the leader of Croydon’s Labour group, underlined that criticism when he said that he believes that responsibility for the neglect of Croydon’s businesses and their employees lies firmly with the councillors in charge at the Town Hall.
“From the moment that a member of the Conservative front bench that runs Croydon Council stood up, less than two years ago, when asked about the threat of Nestle leaving our town, and stated it was nothing to do with him, and that ‘the markets would decide’, we should have known our town was in deep trouble,” Newman said.
“This same attitude of denial mirrors what we see from George Osborne as Chancellor as he drives on with a cuts-only agenda and the country falls ever deeper into recession.
“In just 12 months we have seen Nestle announce their departure, Staples close, Allders on the brink of closure, and all against the backdrop of the worst riots in Croydon’s history. This should have been the time, as Labour councillors offered in the dark days of last August’s riots, for politicians to come together and put Croydon first.
“Unfortunately, all we have seen from the Tory-controlled Council and government is endless spin, hundreds of thousands of pounds squandered on PR companies and yet almost nothing done to address the real issues of how we put Croydon back on its feet and begin to move forward.
“An incoming Labour council in 2014 will guarantee riot recovery money is spent in those areas that need it. We will put in place an Economic Recovery Forum that involves companies, both large and small, and we will intervene directly if necessary and where appropriate, to help both create much-needed jobs for local people and to protect the ones we have,” said Newman, who is a local councillor for Woodside ward.
“Croydon can recover. Things can be different but my very real fear is that with the current politicians in charge, things may yet get worse.”
- What do you think could be done on a local level to help the borough’s businesses? Post your comments and ideas below.
Inside Croydon was the first local website to report on Allders’ financial problems earlier this week. Catch-up with our coverage here: