Something stinks: Arena car park has the builders in – again

The state of the Croydon Arena car park this week - just a few months after the contractors left the site with their work 'finished'

The state of the Croydon Arena car park this week – just a few months after the contractors left the site with their work ‘finished’

And here you have it, from Croydon Council, the local authority that appears to relish spending millions of pounds of public money on construction projects, and then going back just a few months later and digging them up again.

Barely had the contractors left the site of the Oasis Arena Academy in South Norwood than a nasty pong was in the air. To be fair, the whole lash-up job of spending more than £20million to build an over-large school on a too-small-site, while using some Metropolitan Open Land (which is not supposed to be developed), had stunk from the start.

But after two years of cement lorries and construction work disrupting the lives of residents living nearby, and in some cases damaging their property, the resurfacing of the Arena car park – to be used by the sports venue and school alike – was finished. Or so we thought.

The workmanship and the lack of care for the properties of neighbours and the Metropolitan Open Land by building contractors Willmott Dixon has been questioned throughout the project, which started in 2013.

And as a final gesture of contempt for the people living in this part of South Norwood, the contractors appeared to have left an open sewer. “When Willmott Dixon left, a large puddle of water appeared. Smelling of poo. It’s a mess,” one local resident told Inside Croydon a month ago.

A £20m-plus project, and this is the state of the Oasis Arena Academy car park just months after it was 'finished'

A £20m-plus project, and this is the state of the Oasis Arena Academy car park just months after it was ‘finished’

So workman have been called back in, and six weeks later there’s new trench work across the previously smooth tarmac. Residents relate no sense of great urgency about the work going on right outside the home ground of Croydon FC, who yesterday suffered a demoralising 6-1 defeat.

But even they could never have scored as embarrassing an own-goal as the broken sewer in the Arena car park.

It would be nice if those responsible for the mess in the car park might pay to have the work made good, but previous examples of such cases involving our council suggest that either the legal contractual work is less water-tight than a South Norwood sewer, or that there is someone making decisions at our council with all the enthusiasm of a Vicky Pollard: “Bovvered?”

The Arena car park is just the latest example of poor project management by our council (it is irrelevant which political grouping holds sway at the Town Hall), following on from the poor delivery of the vastly over-priced, £144million  Fisher’s Folly council offices, the somewhat problematic Waddon Leisure Centre, the Bridge to Nowhere at East Croydon Station, and the various snagging issues with DisConnected Croydon paving works around the borough. And that’s to name just a few.

Next, they’ll be resurfacing Surrey Street, to dig it all up again once someone works out what they want to do with the utilities.

In case you were wondering, the chief executive of Croydon’s council, Jo Negrini, is paid £185,000 to oversee the management of the council’s activities, assisted by at least four executive directors, each of them on six-figure salaries.

But apparently, no one is ever held to account. It’s just public money, after all. Millions of it. Bovvered?

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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
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