In the first column from the new MP for Croydon North, STEVE REED, pictured left, speaks of the frustration and betrayal felt by victims of the 2011 riots, and their fears over plans to close every police station in his constituency
Croydon is still hurting from the riots. That was made crystal clear to me during the recent parliamentary by-election by residents and business owners alike. The memory of seeing London Road in flames and gangs of looters getting away with stolen goods still shocks people across our community.
There’s real disappointment and anger that the promises made to local people after the riots have been broken.
I made a point of voicing these concerns in my very first speech in Parliament as Croydon North’s new MP. I invited some local people who’d been affected to sit in the gallery of the House of Commons while I told their stories of how abandoned they feel. They are examples of how let down our whole community feels.
Mr and Mrs Hassan, their plight first highlighted by Inside Croydon, lost their London Road dry cleaning business when it was set on fire by arsonists. But instead of compensation, they have been left without their sole source of income and unable to pay the mortgage on the family home.
Charlene Munro and her three-year-old son had to flee their flat when they saw a violent mob approaching. They returned the next morning to find their home burnt down and all their possessions destroyed. They, too, received little support and now Charlene is in debt through no fault of her own. Her son is still traumatised by his experiences.
Senior politicians were quick to come and promise help in the immediate aftermath of the riots, but little has come through. No wonder people here feel forgotten and abandoned.
Now, instead of acting to reassure the public about their safety, London’s Tory Mayor has unveiled proposals to close down every single police station in Croydon North and leave police numbers below the inadequate level that existed immediately after the riots. This is a betrayal of the promises of support we heard when the television cameras were on him during the days immediately after the riots.
Croydon’s Tory MPs and Tory council chiefs have all come out in support of the proposed police cuts. I say this is no time to cut police, and it’s a double Tory betrayal since the money saved from police station closures doesn’t result in any extra police officers on local streets compared to when the riots happened. Unless we can force the Tories to change their minds, Croydon will lose out on every front.
I was proud to stand up in the House of Commons and demand action to help those who lost the most during the riots. I’ll continue to use my role to demand that every promise made to Croydon North must be met in full, and to oppose the Tory proposals to cut Croydon’s police at a time when the memory of the riots is still so strong.
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon – 142,300 unique page views, Nov 2012-Jan 2013
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- Lollipop patrols face the axe on danger roads in Croydon (standard.co.uk)
- My blog’s moving to Croydon North (cllrstevereed.wordpress.com)
- My first speech in the House of Commons (cllrstevereed.wordpress.com)
- Legacy of the riots: Croydon abandoned by middle-class (standard.co.uk)