The Croydon Partnership is staging a not-so-public public event tomorrow. You may not be aware of it. It is so hush-hush that the people behind the £1 billion redevelopment scheme haven’t even bothered to mention it on their own website.
Croydon Partnership’s “Community Roadshow” sets up shop in Addiscombe and Ashburton tomorrow, at St Mildred’s on Bingham Road from 1pm to 4pm, to discuss “Delivering Our Community Plan”. But you’d only know about this meeting if you were lucky enough to have a leaflet thrust through your letterbox.
That’s the thing with “public consultations”: if you make sure as few members of the public take part in them, then you reduce the risk of anyone twigging what you’re up to, or trying to contradict whatever “masterplan” you might have.
In this case, it’s something called the “Partners in the Town” initiative, and it has undertones of a private security scheme for the centre of Croydon.
Croydon Partners are also known as Hammersfield, the shot-gun marriage between Westfield and Hammerson who might, some day, get around to building a new supermall where the Whitgift Centre is today. They’ve been talking about little else for four years…
“Our mission is to be a good neighbour and enhance the ongoing regeneration of Croydon creating jobs, training and new business opportunities,” says their blurb. Without actually detailing how they intend to do any of this, beyond creating a new temple to retail and a load of new flats as some sort of panacea to all the ills of suburban London in the 21st century.
The leaflet for tomorrow’s event was helpfully sent through to us by Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader.
The leaflet explains that, “The Partners in the Town initiative was launched…” did you get invited to the “launch”? Or ever read about it actually taking place? No? Nor did we… “… with the aim of working with the police to deliver a safer town and maintaining regular contact and dialogue with local residents across Croydon as the scheme progresses.”
Small hint, Hammersfield: if you truly want to maintain regular contact and dialogue with local residents, it might be a good idea to publicise your events a little better than you have been doing. Otherwise, some people might start suspecting your motivation.
Such as over this initiative with the police.
Inside Croydon has already warned how Hammersfield appear to have got Croydon’s supposedly Labour-run council to lay the groundwork for a wide-ranging private security zone, with a PSPO – Public Spaces Protection Order. It’s like the drinking in public areas ban, but with far wider powers, and for a much bigger area in central Croydon.
The PSPO would give to the council many of the powers over anti-social and illegal activity currently held by the police. It would allow the council to hire its own little army of private security guards to prowl central Croydon, enforcing their vision of “law and order” with £100 on-the-spot fines, often for the most petty of misdemeanours.
At a time when Tory spending cuts are seeing police numbers under threat again, for thrusting and enterprising business types who want to discourage what Lady Colin Campbell might refer to as “the oiks” from their shiny new supermall, an all-embracing PSPO upheld by private security staff. It’s what amounts to the outsourcing of policing on our streets.
We got a glimpse of how the privatisation of our police works on the night of the Croydon riots in 2011, when the thin blue line was arranged at the top-end of North End, at the limit of the Croydon BID area. Businesses in the BID – business improvement district – pay a little bit extra for additional road-sweeping and an occasional extra bobby on the beat. On that infamous night, they got extra protection, too, as the police kept the arsonists and looters at bay from the BID, and watched as shops and homes on non-BID London Road went up in flames.
The comedian, Mark Thomas, calls PSPOs “beggar traps”, providing councils with “new powers to entrap the poor, to criminalise them, put them into debt and into prison”. And under the leadership of Tony Newman, a Labour council in Croydon is preparing the groundwork to introduce a PSPO across central Croydon, apparently at the behest of big business, such as Hammersfield.
Of course, tomorrow’s Croydon Partnership roadshow, if any of the public actually manage to go to it, may be able to dispel such suspicions.
- The Guardian on the threat to public liberty posed by PSPOs
- Social cleansing of town centre underway with council survey
- Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014.
- Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 729,297 page views in 2014.
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