Riot victims’ anger grows over Town Hall’s broken promises

8/8 One Year On: TONY NEWMAN is the leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council. A year ago, he cancelled a family holiday to return home for the emergency, but now is angry that promises to the victims of rioting by Croydon Council have been broken

Parts of Croydon were in ruins after the night of 8/8. But Tony Newman believes that cash help for the worst affected areas has been diverted to parts of the borough that are less needy

On the night of August 8 last year, I was on holiday in Europe when I received a phone call telling me to turn on the nearest TV immediately. What I then saw still shocks me today.

Images of Croydon burning transmitted globally, Reeves Corner ablaze and families and small shop owners fleeing as the rioters ran wild.

I decided immediately to break my holiday and return to Croydon. Passing through the airport, every European newspaper appeared to carry an image of a desecrated Croydon on its front page.

Yet these images could not prepare me for the shock of a late night walk down the London Road with its still smouldering buildings and the stench of burnt out homes and shops. That night and in the days that followed, I spoke to hundreds of people whose lives had been changed forever. They all asked why were they not protected from the mob and whether anyone would compensate them for what they had lost.

I am proud that it was Malcolm Wicks MP and my fellow Labour councillors who led the calls for an independent enquiry. I am proud that we joined with the local community to demand that the London Mayor and Croydon Council offer some financial support.

But a year on, I and many local people are still angry that in areas such as West Croydon and the London Road, despite much talk and many promises there has been precious little done to change and improve the physical infrastructure of the area. Some householders and businesses still await their riot compensation.

Croydon’s Labour leader, Tony Newman

The people and the community have played their part and their spirits are remarkably high, as the magnificent local response to the Olympic Torch Relay showed, as has the setting up of groups such as the West Croydon Forum.

However, it is now time for the politicians to make good on their promises and ensure that the money promised is delivered to those areas that need it most.

If this can be achieved along with, for example, a new school for the London Road and real investment in both jobs and training opportunities for young people, then it is still possible that the dreadful events of 8/8 will see something positive emerge for the future.

But if this does not happen, then those at the Town Hall and at City Hall who have let down thousands of people in Croydon will, rightly, be accused of causing as much damage to parts of the borough as those who rioted a year ago.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to Riot victims’ anger grows over Town Hall’s broken promises

  1. According to the BBC lunchtime news this afternoon (August 7) compensation for last year’s riots will start to be paid this autumn, once all claims have been verified. That will be 14 months after the event.

    It’s obscene that those whose incompetence made things significantly worse – London’s Mayor, Croydon Council and the Metropolitan Police – are adding insult to injury by making the victims of their stupidity wait inordinate amounts of time for the compensation they need to repair their lives.

    And yet we re-elected Boris earlier this year – because he makes us laugh, apparently. And we are ‘delighted’ to see images of this buffoon beamed around the world during the Olympics.

    We will likely re-elect the local authority in due course, despite its collective irresponsibility before and after the riots, because the councillors wear the right colour rosettes during the campaign.
    Unless these tragedies strike us personally we don’t seem to connect them with the politicians in power at the time they occur.

    Until we start to hold those we elect to account through the ballot box they will continue to play fast and loose with our safety and our livelihoods.

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