Signal of quite how disliked and badly run our council has become, one whole district of the borough is looking at reversing 50 years of local government history and declaring a south London version of UDI.
Residents in Coulsdon are bitterly unhappy at being ignored and not listened to, and they are disgusted that lip service has been paid to a public consultation process over what Croydon Council laughingly calls its “Coulsdon Masterplan”.
Thing is, the experiences of the usually true Tory blue Coulsdon residents comes after the Conservatives have been in charge of Croydon Town Hall for nearly eight years.
But what they are complaining about is not much different from their neighbours in Purley, South Croydon and all points north: having drafted a lovely-looking “Meisterplan” in Katharine Street, the town planners and councillors who run the Town Hall rarely take on board the realities of life as lived by the people that they are supposed to be serving.
The Coulsdon Meisterplan went before the Tory council’s cabinet on Monday, and was duly passed despite strong opposition to key parts of it from residents.
The scheme put forward ignores more than 2,000 petitioners from Coulsdon, led by the Coulsdon West Residents’ Association, who are particularly concerned about the lack of schools provision in their district, the loss of car parking in the town centre because of the positioning of a supermarket development, and the impact of the massive commercial housing development at Cane Hill, where the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has handed over around £250 million-worth of public land at virtually zero cost to house builders Barratt Homes.
It is all too much for the CWRA, with their chairman Richard Thurbon looking for his town to break away from Croydon, to which it has been joined since the last major local government re-organisation in 1965. “We will look into ways to transfer our town of Coulsdon out of Croydon and back into Surrey,” Thurbon said.
“Maybe becoming a district council so we can look at our own planning applications, and make sure we do right for our area.”
Thurbon confirmed that locals are concerned about traffic issues around Coulsdon, as previously reported by Inside Croydon, with particular concerns over the development of a supermarket on Lion Green Road and issues over access from Portnalls Road into Cane Hill. It will lead to “a local imitation of Brands Hatch”, Thurbon said.
Until 1965, when the Greater London Council was formed, Coulsdon and Purley had been part of Surrey and governed by their own district council. Last year, prior to seeking re-election to City Hall, London Mayor Boris Johnson had floated the possibility of the southern part of the modern borough of Croydon being hived off once again. Since his ambition to become MP for Croydon South has waned, so has Johnson’s enthusiasm for such a local government re-organisation.
But the disaffection of the usually firmly Tory areas to the south of the borough will be sweet music to UKIP, as they try to win their first seat on Croydon Council next May, on the same day that the European elections will be staged.
Historically, Coulsdon East, the borough’s southern-most ward, has had dalliances with the Liberals. Neighbouring Coulsdon West’s current councillors include the local Conservative party agent, Ian Parker, and the controversial former senior Met police officer, David Osland, who were elected in 2010 with more than a 2,000-vote margin from their nearest political rivals, when the sole UKIP candidate polled fewer than 500.
Coming to Croydon
- Tea at Five at the Spread Eagle: Oct 2-4
- Minster’s musical celebration for Silver Sunday: Oct 6
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10
- Stanley Lives – open day in South Norwood: Oct 12
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Council faces massive compensation bill over housing failings (insidecroydon.com)
- Minister held as churchgoers claim he forced them to strip naked before spanking them (standard.co.uk)