Waddon councillors silenced over Boris flyover proposals

Croydon Labour is supporting a multi-million-pound road-building scheme which will destroy homes and part of a public park while benefiting developers who are Conservative Party donors. And the councillors for the ward most affected have been worryingly quiet. By STEVEN DOWNES

Has anyone heard from Waddon’s Labour councillors?

Waddon councillors (from left) Andrew Pelling, Robert Canning and Joy Prince: they may soon have even more flyovers to stand under

Waddon councillors (from left) Andrew Pelling, Robert Canning and Joy Prince: they’ll soon have another flyover to stand under

We only ask because there’s less than a week to go in an important Transport for London consultation on a £87million scheme to bulldoze an urban motorway right through their ward, destroying homes and a public park, and so far… tumbleweed.

All three Waddon councillors – Robert Canning, Joy Prince and Andrew Pelling – worked hard to win the ward from the pledge-breaking Tories at last May’s local elections. The one ward in Conservative Croydon South to turn red, Waddon was critical to Labour regaining overall control of the council.

Last May, as candidates, they issued a letter to residents in which they said that, “If we are elected as part of a Labour council we will… Campaign for improvements to Fiveways junction that will benefit local motorists, cyclists and pedestrians”. And now? What’s happened to that campaigning zeal?

There’s wide-ranging outrage and disbelief, from transport experts, environmentalists and former council engineers, at the road-building proposals put forward by TfL, which appear to be a throw-back to the car-friendly 1970s, and all to knock a couple of minutes off shoppers’ journey time as they drive their cars to the new Hammersfield supermall.

The Waddon council candidates, even a year ago, had some notion of what London Mayor Boris Johnson’s transport planners had in mind for that bottleneck along the A23 Purley Way. What was revealed this February was hardly a surprise. Inside Croydon reported on the Boris Flyover proposal last December, two full months before the official announcements.

When the consultation was launched a month ago, TfL confirmed the four/five/six-lane (delete as applicable; TfL’s staff remain worryingly uncertain over such piddling details) flyover to the Croydon Flyover, which will plough through Duppas Hill park and encourage ever more traffic to drive past St Andrew’s secondary school. The alternative is to open up Epsom Road, a plan of which Councillor Canning, now a deputy cabinet member, must have a special understanding since he lives close by.

The TfL artist's impression of the Croydon Road junction with the A23. Traffic from the Purley Way appears to have been air-brushed out of existence, as the cross roads remains with the bridge the other side of the A23

The TfL artist’s impression of the Croydon Road junction with the A23. Traffic from the Purley Way appears to have been air-brushed out of existence, as the cross roads remains with the bridge the other side of the A23

Yet despite such local insight and forewarning, Waddon’s three councillors – the very people who should be championing the interests of the residents, businesses, schools and other interests along Duppas Hill Road – have been virtually silent throughout the consultation period.

Other local politicians have eagerly filled the vacuum. Gavin Barwell, the Conservative MP for Croydon Central, was quick to jump in and support the proposals, since it is a multi-million-pound public construction scheme which will ultimately benefit the Whitgift Foundation, the majority land-owners of the Whitgift Centre. Barwell is a board member of the Foundation. Never mind that Fiveways, and the A232 junction where the Boris flyover is proposed to be built, is not in his constituency. This, Barwell considered, was an issue worthy of his public support.

And the Green Party, too, has made public statements about the TfL proposals, with Peter Underwood – their candidate in Croydon South at the General Election – expressing opposition and launching a petition.

And Waddon Councillors Canning, Prince and Pelling?

Since a brief note when the consultation was launched to state that they would be consulting residents – which was surely something that they had already done in the previous 12 months when canvassing for votes? – not a thing. Nada. Zilch. How odd. But, in Labour-run Croydon in 2015, this is far from unusual.

Since the New Year, the Borough Solicitor issued an order to all Croydon councillors not to dare utter a word about the biggest demolition scheme to hit Croydon since the Blitz, the £1 billion Westfield and Hammerson publicly subsidised takeover of the town centre (make no mistake, that is what it is). Our elected representatives, at a time when residents and businesses need their leadership and help most, have been gagged during the course of the Compulsory Purchase Order inquiry.

Tony Newman: Labour leader implementing Tory policies

Tony Newman: Labour leader implementing Tory policies

And in Woodside ward, when locals turned to their elected councillors for help over the £22million building of an over-large secondary academy in their narrow residential streets, they found one ward councillor chairing the planning committee and another one sitting as a member of the same committee, while the third is the leader of the council and helped to wave through the scheme which had been devised by the previous, Tory administration. Labour councillors from elsewhere in Croydon, if they dared express a view on the Arena Academy proposals, were met with threats and rebukes from their group leadership.

Likewise with the Beddington Lane incinerator, which Labour opposed for nearly six years when in opposition. Since last May? Not a dicky bird about the dicky birds and other wildlife threatened by the proposals, and the widespread environmental threat posed by industrial-scale waste incineration on the boundary of our borough.

So it is that Labour’s position on the Boris flyover in Waddon appears to be what the word pusillanimous was invented for.

Kathy Bee, the cabinet member for roads and transport, was quick to support the road-building scheme, without offering alternative park-and-rides or tram extensions. Or bothering to hear what any residents, schools or local businesses might have to say about how it will affect them.

The Hon Emily Benn, Labour’s volunteer to lose the General Election in Croydon South in May, has issued a leaflet in which her position is utterly indistinguishable from that of her Tory opponents: “It is vital that the junction is improved to get shoppers to the new centre, bringing prosperity to Croydon with them,” she wrote, as if copying from a script presented to her by Barwell and his developer chums. “Any solution must respect the local environment,” as Benn wrote, is hardly going to the barricades and declaring opposition to the destruction of a popular local park.

It is worth reminding ourselves that shopping mall developers Westfield are generous donors to the Conservative Party, and that their executive director John Burton, over-seeing the Croydon development, was a speaker at the Gavin Barwell campaign launch.

Councillor Pelling, the former Tory MP who now sulks on the back benches at council meetings as he is rarely called to speak by his group leadership, made a brief intervention on the subject of the Waddon flyover at a public meeting with TfL officials 10 days ago. Pelling called the flyover “intrusive”, which Waddon Park Avenue and Duppas Hill residents might find euphemistic but of no practical use to them whatsoever.

With the consultation due to end soon, Waddon’s councillors are leaving things very late if they are ever to speak out on behalf of residents. Or maybe they have been prevented from doing so?

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", 2015 General Election, Andrew Pelling, Boris Johnson, Business, Commuting, CPO, Croydon Council, Croydon Greens, Croydon South, Emily Benn, Environment, Gavin Barwell, Hamida Ali, John Burton, Joy Prince, Kathy Bee, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Parking, Paul Scott, Peter Underwood, Planning, Property, Purley Way, Robert Canning, Tony Newman, Transport, Waddon, Whitgift Centre, Whitgift Foundation, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Waddon councillors silenced over Boris flyover proposals

  1. “So it is that Labour’s position on the Boris flyover in Waddon appears to be what the word pusillanimous was invented for.”

    You are being too polite, too kind.

    For both Labour and Tory positions you should add Moral Turpitude which describes both sides as well as the losing candidate for Croydon South absolutely perfectly: “conduct that is contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.”

    What is it about the lure of big bucks that so blinds politicians? All they can see is the fabled wealth that will rain on Croydon once Hammersfield is up and running (and empty….see Centrale). What they can’t see is the harm that the actual construction, its roads and the disruption of lives, that will ruin rather than enrich the lives of the people they are supposed to represent.

  2. davidcallam says:

    You appear to be having great difficulty drumming up any interest in this subject on this website; let alone borough-wide.
    I conclude that Croydon isn’t bothered and that Boris Johnson now has the green light for an even grander scheme to increase traffic capacity along the rest of the A23.
    A group is working on it as I write and plans will be published shortly after the General Election.

    • I don’t know what you mean about lack of interest, David. All the consultation sessions have been well-attended, and all the articles we have published on the subject have enjoyed much better-than-average readership.

      If you mean that the powers-that-be are under-playing the consultation, and the plans, in the hope that no one notices, you may have a point.

      You are, of course, right about the A23 strategic plan being worked on separately from these non-strategic A232 proposals: you probably read about it here: http://insidecroydon.com/2015/02/12/tfls-87m-scheme-for-purley-way-really-is-a-bridge-too-far/

      • davidcallam says:

        I’m afraid those of us who have a more enlightened view of traffic management in densely populated areas, favouring park & ride initiatives, will be ignored because our politicians will do their best to accommodate big business.

        In this case, high street multiples will not lease space in a central Croydon retail complex unless it has good access for car drivers. Anticipating the demands of their tenants, the developers explain to politicians that there will be no development without appropriate feeder roads. And since none of our politicians wants to preside over the terminal decline of the town centre, they all readily agree.

        As they see it, the loss of a few houses and a slice of public park is a mere trifle by comparison.

  3. joeycan says:

    I told you guys in February that the ‘Boris bridge’, provided courtesy of our rates, will be a direct car route into Hammersfield when it is allowed to happen. A move quite contrary to the avowed public policy of the Council, which is supposed to be keeping cars out of central Croydon.

    I said that the A232 throughway will become the ‘by-pass to hell’ once the 24/7 requirements of the unwanted Incinerator at Beddington farmlands are satisfied by hundreds of lorries filled with the detritus of humanity which will use the route.

    I am disappointingly surprised that not one of the Waddon Councillors, through whose ward this nightmare will come, has publicly screamed from the rafters how criminally wrong this and other current Labour Council proposals are, and actively vote against such proposals.

    I have seen how BIS and all its board have agreed to remove the Tourist Centre near East Croydon Station without even bothering to suggest, or more importantly provide, a place where the visitors we so badly want for our Town, can actually go to be informed about its offer.

    I am wondering just how much notice will be taken of the public’s concerns about their cultural and economic environment.

    I am not going to hold my breath!

  4. Joeycan is right to be surprised that not one of the Waddon Councillors, through whose ward this nightmare will come, has publicly screamed from the rafters how criminally wrong this and other current Labour Council proposals are, and actively vote against such proposals.

    That is because none of the current councillors,, apart from David Wood who is a lovely chap but unknown yet in role, seems to be at all concerned about the well-being and quality of life of their constituents. They all seem to be blinded by the opportunity to associated with (or contaminated by?) a truly grandiose project and the people behind it, the Whitgift Mafia in one form or another.

    When he was a Tory, Andrew Pelling never missed an opportunity to comment or to make his views known. Now, after a 180-degree turn, he has lost his courage and tongue, or so it appears.

    No, Joeycan, don’t hold your breath.

    No notice will be taken of the public’s concerns about our cultural and economic environment. No notice will be taken of the voters who put the Waddon councillors on the council. Notice will only be taken of the diktats of Ms Belvir, Tony, Gav and Elvery, the overpaid Eminence Grise. That’s the law in Croydon now!

  5. bemusedbilly says:

    Tonight I went to the last public consultation and completely agree with the point that the ‘consultants’, as nice as they were, either didn’t really have a clue or where being deliberately misleading. The pretty, fluffy, middle-class heaven type ‘artist impressions’ they have shown seem to bare no resemblance to reality.

    When questioned on proposal 1 about what will happen to the land currently occupied by McDonalds and Pets at Home they had no reply, likewise questions about where the cycle lane will lead to (dead end at Fiveways from what I can see) but more importantly how will this relieve the traffic situation on the Purley Way, as there seems to be no solution. Not only that but he suggested that “Duppas Hill Road wont be widened” when the pictures show clearly that it will.

    As for proposal 2, what a mess that is. How they can expect to create a 4 lane road up Epsom Rd, let alone a 6 lane road across the railway bridge is beyond me. Overall I got the impression that they were there for show and no real answers were forthcoming. Hope it doesn’t carry on like this.

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