London Road businesses and residents are to have a massive insult heaped upon the injury that many of them suffered in the Croydon riots last year, with Mayor Boris Johnson admitting that the Riots Recovery Fund he promised the area more than a year ago will now be used to help cover-up cuts in policing.
Answering questions at the London Assembly, Johnson revealed that some of the £23million fund which he first announced in the aftermath of 8/8, 15 months ago, is now destined to pay to police the area.
Traders and community groups in the areas worst affected by the riots – many of whom lost their homes and livelihood – are already angry because less than half of the promised regeneration cash is to be used in their neighbourhood, with £14 million being directed by Croydon Council to projects to the south of the borough, areas less directly affected by rioting.
And riot victims have already encountered huge institutional delays in being able to access what’s left of the recovery fund: the West Croydon community forum has been told it needs to raise £500,000 to match money coming from riot funds before a regeneration project can begin.
The information on the cash being used for police came to light when the Conservative Mayor was pressed at a City Hall Mayoral Question Time by Assembly Member Valerie Shawcross.
And while £9 million of post-riot funds had been pencilled in to be spent on West Croydon Station and along the London Road, some of that is now being diverted to cover the effects on Croydon of the Met’s £500 million budget cuts.
There is a bitter irony in this, since on the night of 8/8 many victims felt that they had been abandoned to the looters and arsonists by the under-manned local police force. Now, money intended to help them rebuild their lives is being used to disguise further cuts to the police.
Johnson said, “One of the things I made absolutely clear when I was there was that that funding should be absolutely flexible and where it might be necessary to use some of it to pay perhaps for extra safer neighbourhood constables or whatever, PCSOs, then that might be possible.”
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