Florid-faced Mike Fisher, the Conservative leader of Croydon Council, is likely to be more red-faced than usual at tonight’s Town Hall meeting, as it emerges that there is a leak in the roof of his flagship new council headquarters offices, which he claims was built for nothing but everyone knows cost at least £140 million.
It is barely a month since council staff were moved into what they now call Bruce Willis House, but the property appears to have been handed over from the builders in a less than ideal state.
The building is part of the wider £450 million CURV property speculation deal which our council has done with builders and erstwhile library operators John Laing.
Between them, Croydon and Laing have cooked up a scheme to off-set the cost of the new building by developing the site of the old council offices in Taberner House into yuppie apartments which they hope to flog off for more than £100million.
But that has already encountered some problems over the greedy need to build on the Queen’s Gardens public open space to maximise the scheme’s profit, and because the large amount of asbestos used in the building of Taberner House in the 1960s will make its demolition a much more specialised – and expensive – process than had been budgeted for.
And now there’s a problem with water running into the top floor of Fisher’s Folly.
Inside Croydon contacted the council’s “head of customer communications and engagement” (yes, opaque and secretive Croydon has given someone that job title, and apparently it’s not meant as some ironic joke), Hayley Lewis, about reports of the leaky roof in the brand new offices on Cost A Mint Walk. Lewis declined to issue a denial.
Our further, more detailed questions about the nature of the fault, what was being done to repair it, and the likely cost of the repairs, were referred by Lewis to the council’s “Freedom of Information team”.
Inside Croydon is especially concerned for the safety of council staff: with the lights in Bruce Willis House left on at all hours of the night, and day, there is clearly a high risk of water getting into the new building’s electrical system.
The revelation of the leaky roof at Bruce Willis House may cause Mike Fisher more discomfort than the emergency council meeting that has been called tonight by the opposition Labour group on the council.
Effectively a motion of no confidence in Fisher’s administration, Labour is a bit late with that one. Fisher got a hefty vote of no confidence from his own councillors last month, when the Tory party’s selection panel for the Croydon South parliamentary seat – which included several of Fisher’s senior Town Hall colleagues, and Anne Piles – did not think him good enough even to make the short-list.
Labour’s emergency motion tonight will only be effective if one or more of Fisher’s 36 Conservative party colleagues opts to abstain or, even more unlikely, vote with Labour. And with the poorly drafted motion offering too many hostages to fortune to be palatable to lifelong Conservative loyalists, that is not going to happen.
Less than six months until the Town Hall elections, no Tory councillor can now force a by-election in their ward, so even those who have decided to stand down and not seek re-selection have little to gain from making any sort of gesture of defiance tonight.
Coming to Croydon
- The Lives of Stanley Halls community entertainment: Dec 4
- Riot from Wrong screening: Dec 5
- CP Mums’ Winter Wonderland: Dec 6
- Cinema Ruskin: Dec 21
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- 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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