Riot money splurged to celebrate the Bridge to Nowhere

Croydon Council is spending public money on a party tomorrow night. There will be food. There will be drink. There will be fireworks!

It does not seem to have occurred to anyone that the spending of riot recovery money in this manner is in any way inappropriate. And all to celebrate the opening of an entrance to a bridge. Yes, Croydon Council is having a party over one of its more embarrassing recent fails, the £22 million Bridge to Nowhere.

Not properly connected Croydon, despite the fine drawings on the council's website

Not properly connected Croydon, despite the fine drawings on the council’s website

“Come along for an evening of entertainment, food and Christmas shopping on Lansdowne Road in Croydon from 4pm until 10pm on Thrusday [sic] 5th December to celebrate the official opening of the new East Croydon train station entrance and pedestrian link into the Town Centre,” the council-run website gushes without proof-reading.

The staging of this event will see Lansdowne Road closed for the event (so expect some additional traffic congestion): “Take a walk along Lansdowne Road …

“Meander through a special Christmas Market with food and crafts, enjoy street entertainers, live music and performance and marvel at dynamic lighting on neighbouring buildings,” the council says.

Of course, some people who live in the Old Town, in Broad Green or along London Road well remember seeing a different kind of “dynamic lighting” on buildings in August 2011. Many of them are still waiting for any riots compensation or to see any use of recovery money in their neighbourhood, where homes were razed and businesses looted.

“The Celebrate Croydon street festival is being held to mark the opening of the pedestrian link from East Croydon Station into the main business and retail areas of the Town Centre and to celebrate the ongoing regeneration works across Croydon,” the council continues.

They tell us that “the Croydon Celebrates event has been made possible due to Croydon Council successfully securing £50 million of funding, including £18 million from the London Mayor’s Regeneration Fund”.

What Croydon Council does not tell us is that their pedestrian bridge and station access is a project that they have failed to deliver properly. There is no way of entering or exiting the bridge, as had been intended, on the eastern side of the tracks, through to Cherry Orchard Road and into Addiscombe.

The Bridge to Nowhere remains incomplete because of a multi-million-pound short-coming of the council-run planning process.

When Menta submitted its application for its 54-storey tower block – on which work has yet to begin more than two years after the developers got planning permission against the wishes of local residents’ groups – Croydon Council, together with Transport for London and Network Rail, sought agreement for their new pedestrian bridge to the north of East Croydon Station to exit on to that site.

Property developers having their site directly linked to a mainline railway station and across the tracks to the centre of Croydon, and all paid for with tens of millions of public cash, would, you’d think, believe that the bridge is an enhancement, adding value to their own scheme. Croydon’s planners obviously thought so.

But whatever was the nature of the “agreement” reached with Menta – and Croydon Council is refusing to release the details of the deal, and who oversaw it – it was not binding. Because Menta has refused to allow the bridge works to be completed on their land. Our council, TfL and Network Rail have had to cobble together a temporary pedestrian walkway along publicly owned land by Billinton Hill to provide the bridge’s eastern entrance and egress, and all at extra cost to the public (naturally).

Obviously it’s a scheme well worth celebrating. Not. Why does it matter? Well, if Croydon’s six-figure salaried executives and the planning department cannot manage to deliver anything but a botched job on a £22 million project, can we have any faith in their capabilities when dealing with developers over the Hammersfield development worth nearly 50 times as much?

Our council proceeds without conscience or a sense of irony. For what is the name that the PR geniuses at Croydon Council have come up with as the umbrella title for projects around the borough, beginning with this Bridge to Nowhere? Connected Croydon, of course.

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This entry was posted in Addiscombe Residents Association, Addiscombe West, Broad Green, Croydon 8/8, Croydon Council, East Croydon, Lansdowne Road RA, London Road Traders Association, Menta Tower, Planning, Property, Ruskin Square, Transport and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Riot money splurged to celebrate the Bridge to Nowhere

  1. Croydon Council bashing is great fun, but in this case somewhat misleading.
    It is in the nature of property developers to propose lavish schemes that they don’t immediately have the money to fulfil.
    When the council approached Menta for the money to complete its end of the new pedestrian bridge at East Croydon, surprise, surprise, the money wasn’t available.
    In the same way, I suspect the money was never actually earmarked for Minerva’s Park Place development, or may not yet be there for the Westfield and Hammerson remodelling of the town centre.
    In the case of the Gateway proposals, Stanhope didn’t even own all the land – it may not now – but it did have options to buy if planning permission was granted.
    Throwing a party to celebrate the opening of a new pedestrian access to the Whitgift Centre does seem profligate, particularly given the present tawdry state of the shopping complex.
    But it may be symptomatic of how badly things are going in the all important pre-Christmas trading period – an indication of how much the borough’s economy needs the £1 billion injection that Hammersfield is offering to raise and spend.
    So, is it morally right to spend riot recovery money on a PR junket? Of course not, but morality is not a strong suite for most politicians – especially not in the run-up to an election.

  2. mraemiller says:

    So is there a free bar or not?

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