More details have seeped out from the latest of the “invitation-only” meetings organised by local councillor, Paul Scott, in one of his many other roles, on behalf of what is supposed to be a community group, People for Portland Road.Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader may recall that last month, Scott staged a meeting at Stanley Halls (where he’s also a vice chairman of the governing body) to discuss regeneration plans for the area around South Norwood high street.
Except the councillor made sure that the invite list to the meeting was most selective, with hardly any local businesses or shop keepers in attendance.
And when one attendee sought to take notes at the meeting, they had them confiscated.
Not that Councillor Scott has anything to hide… oh no, although he has since written to one local resident demanding to know whether they were the source of the information published by Inside Croydon.
Indeed, so subversively troublesome has been the reporting of Scott’s meetings for People for Portland Road that links to Inside Croydon‘s coverage in two reports have mysterious been removed from PPR’s Facebook page.
Last week, Scott staged a second Community Economic Development Plan meeting for a hand-picked few – he says he couldn’t invite many more, or he’d need to stage the event at Selhurst Park – and again the meeting was led by Lorraine Hart, from the Community Land Use company which has been closely associated with several gentrification schemes in north and east London, and whose co-director, John Aldenton, has been subject to an investigation by the Charity Commission over his past conduct.
Inside Croydon was not invited to attend the meeting, though we did our civic duty by publishing details of Scott’s invitation list and agenda. And besides, we had a couple of very reliable sources who were in attendance to reveal details of what was discussed.
Among the attendees were a couple of councillors from South Norwood ward – Kathy Bee and Jane Avis – who will have heard Hart describe herself as angry about the coverage that the previous meeting had received on Inside Croydon.
Our sources tell us that Hart “said that she would be upfront and say that she is being paid £2,500 for her work up till May and that the Government selected her organisation and is paying her fees”.And what is Hart’s task? “This whole thing appears to be about ‘helping the community groups’ fill in a form for a grant of £5,000 – yes only £5,000.”
“Quite a few people were there, and it seems that quite a few turned up without the ‘invitation’ from Scott,” according to one of our sources.
“Actually, it as bad as I was expecting,” one said.
“The upshot is that the market is going to get some support to fill in forms to become a community business thing. It is expanding and there is an opportunity to make money and it is something that will be seen instantly by the public.
“Hart advised that we should go and talk to shop owners – but that she can’t advise that – to tidy up their shop fronts and so forth.
“The other main thing is to create a ‘hub centre’ in a council-owned building for an intergenerational centre,” the source said, having discreetly managed to get some notes out from the meeting.
So far, so bland.
It does seem odd that Scott, an elected councillor who also happens to be the chair of the council’s planning committee as well as married to another councillor, Alison Butler, the cabinet member in charge of regeneration, should be so prickly about who knows about such “community economic development” plans. And that he should have such reluctance to discuss economic development with the community at large.
And it seems very odd for £2,500 of public money to be spent to advise on form-filling to receive a public grant of £5,000.
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