The world of unreality that is inhabited by Croydon’s Labour-run council was evident once again in a report to Monday’s council meeting from Kathy Bee, the cabinet member in charge of the borough’s transport. It was just like 1984 all over again…
“Top among our priorities are improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists plus enhancing the public realm, particularly at Fiveways Corner and by Waddon Station,” Bee wrote (and them’s our italics).
Who would guess that Bee was writing about a multi-million-pound scheme to impose a monstrous flyover above Waddon railway station, towering over the residents in Waddon Park Avenue, and all to ease the way towards the town centre for cars on a four-, five- or even six-lane urban motorway. Only someone fluent in Orwellian Doublespeak could describe that as “enhancing the public realm”.
Bee continues: “We are especially keen that weight be attached to the views of Waddon residents and businesses.” Wouldn’t that make a pleasant change?
There’s no sign that the concerns of Waddon residents who enjoy the park on Duppas Hill and who don’t fancy a highway running above their bedrooms are being given much weight by the council in their enthusiasm to support a solution to speed traffic to the new Westfield development.
How the feedback from Waddon people is to be secured reliably is unclear, when those running the consultation for Transport for London took no notes of the views expressed at consultation events.
The unreality of life in the Town Hall was extended a tad this week. It’s all to do with the election purdah, don’t you know. So the council meeting went ahead on Monday, and there were people listening to what passed for the debates, but none of it is available via the council website as a podcast until after General Election day on May 7. It could make all the difference…
Nathan Elvery, wearing both of his hats – as council CEO and election returning officer – provided his own moment of civic nonsense, though this was more Basil Fawlty than Eric Blair. The unelected official instructed councillors not to mention the names of parliamentary candidates. Elvery didn’t explain how Councillors Mohan and Benn were to conduct themselves through the meeting without being mentioned.
And having blocked the podcast, Elvery did nothing to prevent councillors who were attending the meeting, from council leader Tony Newman onwards, from using social media during the meeting.
So for those who missed the meeting, all we can rely on is tweeted reports.
Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling reported on Twitter that he escaped from his normal sulk – brought on by his banishment to the farthest reaches of the Labour backbenches – to ask about whether the flyover to the flyover in his ward would offer value for money for the tax-payer.
The flyover will only take west-bound traffic from central Croydon to the eastern side of Purley Way. At a cost of £65 million, including £20 million of Croydon Council money, the bill seems large. That’s especially so when you consider that the work is being done mainly to allow car-borne shoppers to reach the new Hammersfield shopping mall in Croydon. No expense spared for the council’s mates at the Whitgift Foundation, eh?
Pelling, somewhat obsequiously (well, he was a long-time Tory), tweeted to thank Bee for listening to his concerns. But what Waddon residents want is for Bee to listen to their concerns. “Cllr Kathy Bee says council would work to minimise take from Duppas Hill recreation ground if TfL pursue Waddon station flyover,” Pelling tweeted. Which sounds very much like the Labour council is planning to bulldoze through one of the borough’s public parks.
So not much sign of Bee really listening to the “weight” of Waddon residents’ and businesses’ views. More just a determination to plough on regardless.
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