Is Newman trying to tunnel away from any real questioning?

Tony Newman’s Labour group faces losing control of Croydon Town Hall at the first time of asking if the latest national opinion poll, which puts the Tories 12 per cent ahead, translates locally.

Tony Newman, on "#teamTessa", and some of his Town Hall top team.

Tony Newman (third from left) and some of his Town Hall Labour councillors, two of whom pictured here stand to lose their council seats if the polls stay as they have been this week

And yes, of course all opinion polls come with hefty health warnings since the pollsters collectively got so much so spectacularly wrong in the lead-up to May’s “too close to call” (ha!) General Election.

And yes, the next council elections are still a long way off, in 2018.

But one year into Newman’s group’s control of the borough council, unless they are able to convince local residents that Labour has truly made a difference to Croydon, this week’s ComRes poll, conducted for the Daily Wail, would see the Tories gaining three wards and nine new councillors.

At risk for Croydon Labour if their party is so far behind in the polls is Waddon, the only ward in true-blue Croydon South that does not have Conservative councillors; plus Ashburton, the much-prized ward won for the first time by Labour in 2014; and the key battleground ward of Addiscombe.

Such an outcome would make Tim Pollard the new leader of the council, in a group of 39 Tory councillors, a majority of eight over Labour’s 31.

Even a redrawing of ward boundaries could not save Labour at current support levels.

Whether such a threat to their hard-won seats persuades the well-established Addiscombe councillors – cabinet member Mark Watson and Scrutiny Committee chair Sean Fitzsimons, plus Mayor Patricia Hay-Justice – to begin to lobby for more action, and spending, on key local issues remains to be seen.

Certainly, the local party’s leadership’s strategy of doing just as the council’s executives tell them and implementing many of the policies they inherited from the discredited previous Tory administration does not appear to be winning over hearts and minds.

Which may explain why Newman has started wittering on about getting an extension of the Bakerloo Tube line to Croydon. This is something which transport experts claim has about as much chance of happening as the editor of this website winning the next staging of Miss World. That Newman’s latest pie-under-the-ground blatherings have been given such extensive coverage elsewhere just goes to demonstrate the lack of rigour of some media.

How TfL sees the Bakerloo extension. The plans have no funding earmarked

How TfL sees the Bakerloo extension. The plans have no funding allocated

Publicly giving your “backing” to a scheme over which you have little or no influence, and which is unlikely ever to happen, is a low-risk distraction strategy for Newman – distracting from those aspects of local government over which he does actually have some influence, but has so far failed to cause much of an impact.

Transport for London’s Bakerloo proposals would see the line extended from the Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, thence to Catford and Hayes by utilising existing overline tracks, and then possibly tunneling through to Bromley.

Somewhat sniffily, Bromley Council has turned its nose up at that suggestion. The project is reckoned to cost at least £3 billion. TfL says it “… is investigating a range of options with boroughs along the route of the extension to for generating funding for the extension from new developments”. Which all suggests that it is just another Boris Johnson project which is entirely unfunded.

Newman’s fantastical “bring it to Croydon” call makes for easy headlines, but it fails to address the fundamental engineering issue: how? Where are the existing tracks along a route from Lewisham into Croydon? Tunneling all those extra miles would be prohibitively expensive.

Croydon Council’s record for extracting funds from developers, such as Menta and Hammersfield, has been woeful. Anyone managed to complete the walk over the Bridge to Nowhere from Dingwall Road across the tracks into Addiscombe yet? What makes anyone assume they might be any more successful in extracting many millions from the shopping mall or skyscraper developers for the Tube? Maybe Newman can tap into Tessa Jowell’s private income sources?

Meanwhile: how’s the state of Croydon’s streets?

 

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 2018 council elections, Addiscombe West, Ashburton, Boris Johnson, Bromley Council, Commuting, London-wide issues, Mark Watson, Mayor of London, Outside Croydon, Patricia Hay-Justice, Sean Fitzsimons, Tony Newman, Transport and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Is Newman trying to tunnel away from any real questioning?

  1. whitgiftavenue says:

    It’s so depressing. They haven’t come up with a single new idea since winning power. You have to ask, what is the point of Labour?

  2. Darryl says:

    If Tony Newman wants the Tube so much, why doesn’t he lobby for an extension of the, um, extension from Hayes to New Addington, and work with Lewisham and Southwark rather than against them?

  3. Nick Davies says:

    Extending the Bakerloo Line to Croydon has been suggested many times over the years by the Glee Club, but no-one appears to have come up with any sort of plan, not even of the crayons on the AtoZ variety.

    Plans for the extension to Lewisham are reasonably well advanced. It will get built one day, though not before more pressing schemes, like Crossrail 2, come to fruition. 2030 or 2040 is the sort of timescale under consideration. The extension to Hayes simply takes over the existing railway and is the obvious thing to do next for a variety of reasons, not least cost. The wavy line to Bromley seems speculative, and for the moment at least Bromley Council aren’t interested, probably because it means spending money.

    I can only imagine a Croydon branch would parallel the tramway, albeit 50 feet underneath it, from somewhere around Elmers End. There would be little obvious reason to do that, though perhaps Hammersfield should excavate a huge cavity underneath their shopping precinct just in case?

    There’s a useful account of the Bakerloo extension, and then epic discussion here:
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/haykerloo-bakerlewisham/

    • So around 15 slow stops to Central London, via nowhere particularly interesting (with apologies to Lower Sydenham et al). Why would anyone use that for a trip in to Zone 1 when Thameslink will bring frequent, direct trains from East Croydon to Farringdon and beyond?

      A more practical way of improving links from East Croydon to the rest of SE London might be to have the Thameslink “fast” services call at Norwood Junction (for Overground via Forest Hill) and New Cross Gate (Overground to Canada Water, Shoreditch etc. and in future Bakerloo to Peckham and/or Old Kent Road).

  4. whitgiftavenue says:

    Arfur, I’d be happy with that. Perhaps instead of ‘new’ ideas i should have used the word ‘radical’ . The last thing needed is continuing the policy of ignoring Croydon’s problems or, at best, applying sticking plasters to them.

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