Council talking shops must listen to poor and dispossessed

CROYDON COMMENTARY: While I can appreciate the perspective of almost all the parties involved in this debate, says ROD DAVIES, there is a far more serious question to pose ourselves over how a community talking shop is managed and funded

Croydon crowdCroydon is already a very diverse community, and is becoming more so.

Even if everyone votes for UKIP next year, immigration will not end nor will the migration of people from inner London into the slightly cheaper areas such as Croydon. Whereas Croydon may have been overwhelmingly and almost exclusively white (whatever that really means) 25 years ago, it is no longer the case.

Yet the community representative groups remain dominated by white people, and they also tend to be well above the average age of Croydon residents.

So how do we engage with the community and develop community representative groups that truly represent the communities we live in?

First, we need to understand why certain communities are not well represented, and this may not be an ethnicity issue. It may be a class and age issue. Working class communities are not well-represented either. Neither are younger people.

Elizabeth Ash presiding over the poorly attended and deeply unrepresentative annual meeting of her CCC

Elizabeth Ash presiding over the poorly attended and deeply unrepresentative annual meeting of her CCC talking shop

Once we understand why certain communities are not well represented, we can develop strategies to address this.

If we don’t, may I suggest that we will have a succession of fairly small events that generate a lot of complaint simply because community representative groups become or have become largely introspective self-serving bodies composed of those people who are relatively wealthy or have sufficient free time to get involved.

What we already have in Croydon is an immense imbalance where the burden of future development plans fall heavily upon the largely unrepresented communities of the centre and the north, while those communities in the “leafy suburbs” enjoy the benefits without having to bear the burden.

Nowhere can this be illustrated better than in “Addiscombe Place” where proposed planning restrictions and traffic management ensure the maintenance of the current environment and that no high density development will occur, together with a vast amount of capital investment being poured into the resuscitation of the shopping area. While in a small enclave next to the town centre there are no such restrictions on development or traffic, and the environment declines daily and several high density developments are currently underway or about to start.

Although the whole town will benefit from the employment creation, there is no attempt to ameliorate the impact upon the inhabitants affected negatively, nor compensate them through the Council Tax system. In effect the inhabitants of inner Croydon subsidise those in outer Croydon.

Thus the ethnic minority, working class and the young subsidise the older established white community.

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2 Responses to Council talking shops must listen to poor and dispossessed

  1. Rod Davies says:

    Dear All,
    Please can any responses to this be constructive proposals about how we as a community can bring the excluded on board and create platforms where everyone is heard and everyone is treated fairly. Perhaps this should be the No 1 job for Cllr Watson Cabinet Member for Fairness.
    Only when everyone comes together to speak and to listen can we arrive at point where we understand each others perspectives and needs.

    And before we roll out more claptrap about who is more deserving etc. which invariably means people who have retired, I would like to put some facts out there.

    3.5 million males 17.75 yrs+ fought in WW2. To have stormed up the beaches of D-Day the survivors have to be about 87 years old, and so very few are alive today. Of the near half million British people killed in WW2, the overwhelming majority were males between 16-55. Of those who came back physically and mentally damaged, they were generally treated appalling in the post-war era (forget any Help for Heroes initiatives!) by the generation who want to march out today and tell you about how they sacrificed so much for the future generations.

    Croydon’s young owe the old nothing!

    The post-war baby boomers enjoyed a life of unparalleled wealth and security. They routinely voted for whichever party promised to put cash in their pockets at the expense of investing in the future. The consequence of which is that UK Plc is not able to compete with countries like Germany because we simply don’t have the skilled workforce nor a banking system that is prepared to invest in manufacturing industry. What we do have is a massive national debt which will take generations to pay off, while the older property owning generation continue to enjoy considerable wealth, power and better prospects than the young. These are the very people who populate much of residents / community representative groups / associations.

  2. It is worrying that there aren’t enough councillors from BME communities though one would argue that the Mayor of Croydon is from the BME community.

    Both parties should do more to address this issue. This does not mean there should be token candidates. Candidates who are good enough from BME communities should not be ignored. This happens in both parties as those who have been selected or certain to be selected don’t want to encourage the others as their places may be under threat.

    A BME doctor who recruited more members for a party was not even selected as a paper candidate.

    The Labour group used to encourage more BME candidates but in the last election this was not the case. The Conservatives have a long way to go on this issue though statistically more than 10% of their current councillors are from BME communities.

    Organisations like operation black vote and BME forum seem to get headlines in newspapers but have failed to convince major political parties.

    Given the number of Polish residents in Croydon there is absolutely no representation at all.

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