Angry Coulsdon residents want to break away from Croydon

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.

Coulsdon West wardResidents 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.

Coulsdon West councillor Ian Parker, a senior figure in the local Conservative party, with MP Gavin Barwell at the 2010 election count. Parker and other Coulsdon councillors have been accused of failing to listen to residents' concerns

Coulsdon West councillor Ian Parker, a senior figure in the local Conservative party, with MP Gavin Barwell at the 2010 election count. Parker and other Coulsdon councillors have been accused of failing to listen to residents’ concerns

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.

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5 Responses to Angry Coulsdon residents want to break away from Croydon

  1. I live in Coulsdon and cannot, for the life of me, think why anybody would object to these proposals. Will there be issues with parking ? Probably. Will there be issues with schools ? Without a doubt. But those are good problems to have. Coulsdon needs more people in it. The town needs a vibrancy that only an increased population can bring to it. I have no love for the Tories (having been an avid supporter in the past) and would rather punch myself in the face than vote for them whilst Cameron and co sell out its soul but anything which brings more people and jobs into Coulsdon has to be a good thing.

  2. davidcallam says:

    There’s an element in Coulsdon that thinks the district is special – more deserving of consideration than any other district in the borough. That’s nonsense.

    But paradoxically, it’s Coulsdon and the south from which the council draws its strongest electoral support. If you don’t like the way the Tories run the council, vote for someone else! It’s a much quicker solution than campaigning for decades for a change in local government.

    Will you alter allegence, in sufficient numbers next year to make the Cost-us-a-Mint Mafia sit up and take notice? Of course you won’t: but until you do, you’ll go on getting the council you deserve.

  3. Absolutely David, the whole of Croydon is desperate for a really effective Council: to hold officers to account and to effectively represent the views of the people of Croydon. To have a Borough where there are effective, transparent checks and balances; and where good, critical friends are seen as healthy, not as an evil threat.

  4. ndavies144 says:

    It’s Coulsdon and the south which contribute the bulk of the Council Tax revenue, too. Croydon Council won’t cede the area to Surrey without putting up a battle. However “putting up a battle” to Croydon Council means doing as little as possible and hoping the problem will go away.

    The Red Lion site in the centre of Coulsdon is becoming a lasting memorial to the inability of the Council to do anything at all. They could have bought the site, redeveloped it and sold it on at a huge profit and benefit to the community at any time in the last ten years but preferred instead to drag out a planning dispute with Aldi which sooner or more likely later will turn one eyesore into another. There have been a series of proposals to redevelop the Lion Green car park (remember the swimming pool one?), none of which have come to anything. There are other sites – the area near Coulsdon Town station springs to mind – which are ripe for redevelopment but the chances of anything happening are exactly zero.

    Like all the other masterplans and consultations we have seen over the years this one will be filed in a dusty corner of the library never to see the light of day again. Issues arising from the Cane Hill redevelopment will be treated piecemeal if at all and unless someone gets a grip the whole place will turn into an ugly, unworkable mishmash which won’t be sorted out for decades. Experience tells us that expecting Croydon Council to get a grip on anything at all requires a leap of faith that even the most committed find inconceivable.

    That’s why many in Coulsdon want out.

    • I doubt that the bulk of the Council tax does come from Coulsdon. There is not much of a gap between the top band of Council Tax and the bottom band, hence density of population is key to the value of Council tax garnered from any one area – the North of the Borough has much higher density of population.
      For example: in a large house the Council Tax is £2,948.78 per year; many of those houses are sub-divided in the poorer end of the Borough into multiple flats. The house next to me is sub-divided into 6 separate units, so the inhabitants must be paying at least 6 times the band A rate of £982.93 = £5,897.58. Some parts of Croydon have six times the density of population to others.

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