Senior Conservative politicians have ordered Croydon Council staff to cold-call house-holders in a marginal ward to offer to build dropped kerbs with a hefty discount provided on the rates.
At the same time that council staff and the emergency services were battling floods elsewhere in the borough, further up the Wandle River valley, hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money has been spent in Waddon ward by Croydon Council in providing private car-parking spaces by installing dropped kerbs – which are widely accepted as playing a significant contributory factor in worsening the impact of flooding in urban areas.
“We were told to go out and knock on doors to offer residents to build a dropped kerb over their front gardens at a discount,” a member of council staff told Inside Croydon. “The order came from a senior councillor, and they told us where they wanted us to go to, and that they wanted the work all done in a hurry.
“It was made fairly clear that they wanted us to do the work ahead of the local elections,” said our source, who for obvious reasons asked not to be named.
As well as Waddon, Inside Croydon has received reports of council officials leafleting households in Bensham Manor to offer dropped kerbs on roads where resurfacing work is being undertaken.
Building a single dropped kerb costs an estimated £3,000. Around 30 houses are understood to have signed up to the scheme. The hefty discounts offered by Croydon Council out of public money, believed to be from the Housing Revenue Account, has made having a kerb dropped a possibility for many householders, with the council suggesting that the measure eases congestion.
In Waddon, workmen employed by the council have installed dozens in the past few weeks, usually outside the homes of owner-occupiers, many of them along Foss Avenue, Crowley Crescent and Coldharbour Road in Waddon.
Waddon ward is currently represented by three Conservative councillors, but is regarded as a key election battleground which could determine control of the council on Town Hall polling day on May 22.
The work is being done through Croydon Council’s highways and environmental services department, which comes under the supervision of cabinet member Phil Thomas, who is known to be co-ordinating the Tories’ election campaign.
Thomas must love the smell of boiling bitumen in the morning, because after years of neglect, Waddon’s streets have been getting a rapid makeover in the past few weeks. One Town Hall source suggests that more than £200,000 is being spent on these pre-election road “improvements”.
Grace Onions, who is standing as a Green Party candidate in Waddon next month, has warned against widespread use of dropped kerbs in an area which has experienced flash floods as recently as 2007.
“The purpose of dropped kerbs is to allow easier access across the kerbed area, often to a property. This can help wheelchair users, cyclists, anyone pushing a pushchair or car owners,” Onions said. “Usually it is to provide hard standing to park a car in what would have been a garden area at the front of a house.
“In light of recent flooding, it may be prudent to look very carefully at applications of this nature, as once an area is paved, surface water cannot easily soak away through it. More paved areas, especially ones adjoining houses, means less available drainage during heavy rain.
“With flooding in Kenley and Purley so recently in the news, and taking several weeks to control, perhaps some thought should be given to the River Wandle which passes through the north of Waddon ward. The bournes drain down from Caterham and Coulsdon valleys (now culverted underground) to join the Wandle where it rises near the Swan and Sugar Loaf pub (also culverted). Although not affected this year, the local area of Southbridge Road was under a foot of water in 2007,” Onions said.
“I would hope that any offers of dropped kerbs will not lead to more paved areas and further reduce possible drainage sites for flood waters.”
Recent Inside Croydon election coverage:
- Tories pick ‘Osland of the Yard’ to stand in Thornton Heath
- ‘Coulsdon was sentenced to be crucified last night’
- Councillors get two months off to work out what they stand for
- What Barwell fails to tell you and the myths of Council Tax
- Council allowances and local politicians’ secret consensus
- Tory ward chairman quits to stand for UKIP in Ashburton
- Snap! Croydon Tories use same leaflet graphics as council
Coming to Croydon
- TickIt vote campaign launch, Apr 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- Private Peaceful, Charles Cryer Theatre, Apr 23-26
- Alison, A Rock Opera, Spread Eagle Theatre, Apr 23-26
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Stop The Incinerator Beer and Bingo fund-raiser, Apr 28
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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