WALTER CRONXITE has trawled through the council’s audio recording of a Town Hall meeting which was never webcast, and discovered a breath of fresh air over Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s £85 million proposal to build a flyover to the Croydon Flyover
A Croydon councillor has finally spoken out against a road-building proposal from City Hall, describing the suggested flyover on the A232 by Waddon Station as a “monstrosity”, and calling on the council and Transport for London to do much more to improve air quality in Waddon and around the A23 Purley Way.
Labour’s new(ish) councillors in Waddon ward must have very painful backsides from six months of sitting on the fence and saying nothing in particular about the controversial proposals from TfL to bulldoze through Croydon’s oldest public park at Duppas Hill and to build a four-/five-/six-lane flyover alongside the homes of residents that they are meant to represent.
We have reported before how there was a distinct possibility that the Waddon councillors – Robert Canning, Joy Prince and Andrew Pelling, who between them won the ward from the Tories at the 2014 local elections – had been gagged from commenting on the TfL consultation when it was held six months ago, just in case they might discomfort the juggernaut of developers’ interests in Croydon town centre.
More recently, a Labour leaflet distributed in the ward took anodyne to a new analgesic high when it came to dealing with the multi-million-pound TfL proposals for the road-building scheme. Ostensibly the proposals are to deal with congestion at the Fiveways junction on the Purley Way, but they are transparently intended to speed ever more motor traffic into the new Hammersfield supermall.
The Waddon Labour leaflet makes no mention of the environmental damage of the proposed flyover, but instead offered a vacuous quote of nothingness: “We wrote to TfL to raise a number of concerns on behalf of local people including the need for a full environmental assessment.”
Calling for a piece of paper to cover their splinter-ridden arses does not amount to much.
Only one of the three councillors has expressed opposition to the flyover, and Andrew Pelling only did so when forced to get off that fence when challenged by a Waddon resident on Twitter.
But it appears that, at last, there has been a significant shift in position, although this will have bypassed a large number of voters because it came during a Town Hall meeting when the “more open and transparent” council’s webcast was not working.
Inside Croydon has happened across an audio recording of that meeting, however, which shows a change of position from the trio – at last.
In his long-delayed maiden speech as a Labour councillor, Pelling described the proposed “Boris Flyover” over Waddon Station as something “that would indeed be a monstrosity”. Indeed.
Pelling was apparently speaking on behalf of all three ward councillors – the others being Joy Prince and Labour’s cabinet deputy on transport, Robert Canning – when he said: “We as the three Waddon councillors are very concerned about the proposal that would take a very large part out of the Duppas Hill Recreation Ground.”
Pelling then announced that theWaddon trio have decided to back the TfL option that does not include the flyover but instead widens both the road outside Waddon Station, to make it two-way, and the Purley Way bridge over the West Croydon to Sutton railway line.
“Our preference is for the second option that came from Transport for London in terms of widening the bridge on the Purley Way over the railway line and having traffic going two ways past Waddon Station as long as the Waddon Hotel, which was built a long time before housing development in Waddon and is a historical building, would be saved.
“We are very keen for Fiveways itself to be improved. Residents very much noted in TfL’s first consultation that there wasn’t very much in it about Fiveways junction itself and we very much hope that will not be the case in future proposals.”
Earlier in the evening, responding to a question from a member of the public about the £85 million road-building scheme, Kathy Bee, Labour’s transport cabinet member, was careful not to express a preference between the two options. She did, though, hint that an announcement on the consultation will come from TfL soon.
Bee was full of praise for the Waddon councillors for lobbying TfL, describing Canning as “very useful” in his dual role as her deputy and ward councillor, giving her advice on the issue. Bee urged support for change on the A23 with “the expected increase of traffic as a result of growth in Croydon”.
At least Pelling stopped tip-toeing around the topic, though, when he declared that the road changes are most about helping Westfield, and he pleaded for improved air quality to be top of the council’s agenda in a part of Croydon which is already cursed by the relentless traffic on the Purley Way, and is soon to have to contend with additional air pollution from the waste incinerator being built on Beddington Lane.
Pelling said: “In Waddon, the issue of air quality is of great concern and we want the council to have this issue at the top of its agenda as more traffic comes in for the new Westfield development.”
Local councillors showing some regard for the interests and well-being of their residents, and the environment, in the midst of Croydon’s relentless push towards the £1 billion Hammersfield nirvana? Whatever next? Given that performance, it could be a long wait before Pelling is allowed to make a speech at the Town Hall again…
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