Planning chair Scott to face scrutiny at gentrification screening

Paul Scott, the chair of Croydon Council’s planning committee which is pushing through £250million-worth of publicly financed house-building without a single council home being built, is to face public scrutiny in his own backyard tomorrow night at the Stanley’s Film Club in South Norwood when he takes a seat on a panel to discuss gentrification.

Facing questions: planning chair Paul Scott

Scott works as an architect for a large firm based in central London. He has been a Labour councillor for Woodside ward since 2002. He is married to Alison Butler, the council cabinet member who has been tasked with building 1,000 homes through the council’s wholly owned developer, Brick by Brick.

Scott is proving to be a highly divisive character at the Town Hall. A dozen residents’ groups from across the borough have gathered hundreds of signatures to protest at his handling of planning committee business.

Scott’s committee has granted planning permission to council-backed housing schemes when legally required consultations have failed to be undertaken by the council, and Scott as chair has been accused of pressuring committee members on the way they vote for other applications, something which is a clear breach of planning law.

Scott has accepted an invitation to appear on a panel discussion which is to be staged following a screening of Shola Amoo’s film A Moving Image, held at the South Norwood Conservative Club on South Norwood Hill.

The film tackles the issues of gentrification. Recently, Scott has aired the opinion that one person’s gentrification is another person’s regeneration.

Also on the panel with Scott is film-maker Amoo, plus sociologist Dr Lisa McKenzie, a Fellow at the London School of Economics, and the author of Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain; and Betiel Mehari, an activist who has campaigned to maintain social housing in Brixton.

Lisa McKenzie: on the discussion panel with Scott

A Moving Image is an award-winning feature film set in Brixton, incorporating fiction, documentary and performance art.

In the film the director, who is a born and bred south Londoner, explores the question: Is it possible to regenerate an area without stripping away its soul and displacing its residents?

The programme organisers at Stanley’s Film Club have drawn direct comparisons between the issues raised in the film and what is going on now in South Norwood and other neighbourhoods in Croydon.

Stanley’s Film Club was originally based in the South Norwood arts venue, Stanley Halls, until it was forced out earlier this year. As well as being the chair of the local group People for Portland Road, Councillor Scott, who describes himself as a “community leader”, is the vice-chair at Stanley Halls.

The screening starts at 8pm, with tickets on the door costing £10. Further details can be found by clicking here.

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1 Response to Planning chair Scott to face scrutiny at gentrification screening

  1. Lewis White says:

    The weird thing about gentrification is where all the gentry come from.

    Maybe, bored with the tameness of outer suburbia and the countryside, the offspring of the middle/upper classes are enjoying urban life in South London, where there is a bit of buzz. Helped to spread by the London Overground, to areas previously deemed by the latte -quaffing classes to be part of the outer London darkness

    Now that much of the East End, Brixton, Peckham, and Deptford probably can be deemed as “gentrified” plus many other barrios of the Great Wen, the question is whether there is a sufficient critical mass of gentlefolk remaining to transform the whole Croydon to gentledom. Somehow, I doubt it, although the mere fact that South Norwood is hosting a film club and this discussion suggests that the gentrifying tide is already lapping on the shores of Portland Road and the doorstep of the Jolly Sailor..

    Personally, I welcome anyone who brings films, artisan bread, bookshops, Fair Trade coffee shops and places that sell organic produce to a place where fried chicken shops reign supreme.

    A mix can’t be bad. My guess is that the gentrification “threat” is more of a cappucino froth appearing on a cup of Croydon Nescafe. Fairly insubstantial, and unlikely to destroy the host community. Not too much to worry about, all in all. And in a few short years, many of the new arrivals will decide to move out to greener pastures, to the country and seaside, and leafier Surreyside suburbia.

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