It is only now, three months after the re-opening of Surrey Street Market, beginning to emerge why it was necessary to spend £1.2million on resurfacing a stretch of the road as part of Councillor Mark Watson’s attempt to drive stall-holders away from the area through art-washing.
The money was spent to create a car park for a town centre night club!
Residents have had their weekends disturbed by noisy club-goers returning in the early hours of the morning to their cars, parked on the beautifully levelled market pitches.
And stall-holders have had their day’s trading preparations delayed and disrupted by cars still parked on their pitches after 4am.
Surrey Street was closed for more than two months earlier this year for resurfacing and “improvements” works, which according to Watson cost the council £1.2million. The scheme had been controversial because residents and traders who work on the market claimed that Watson and the council had barely consulted them about their proposals.
Traditional market stalls – sturdy and robust – have been replaced by flimsy gazebos with their lightweight frames which have been prone to be blown over in strong winds, risking injury to anyone nearby.
Since the market was allowed to re-open, there has been a notable decline in the number of stalls working there on weekdays.
But the expensively laid paving and pitch spaces are being put to use on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Where are the police, the council members, or any kind of control and diligence?” one angry resident said. “The noise volume from the club is too much.”
On Twitter, resident Dan Chapman posted a video, taken at 2.42 on a Sunday morning, with a sound track which seems to show that the club-goers are having a fine time of things. Cars are parked on both sides of Surrey Street. “Sounds like I’m in the club, I’m in my house,” Chapman wrote. “Where’s the council or the police? What the fuck is this?”
Chapman also observed: “Drivers leaving cars with open containers of alcohol to enter a nightclub makes me happy. All that money spent on Surrey Street was spent well.”
Another resident told Inside Croydon: “People have used Surrey Street to park on when they are on a night out for years. It often ends in congestion, shouting, horn beeping and so on in the early hours of Friday and Saturday.
“At quieter times, people speed down the street.
“There’s often ‘dodgy’ cars there in evenings, I think with drug dealing and solicitation going on. In my opinion, they should have semi-pedestrianised Surrey Street, only allowing vehicle access to shops, traders and residents.”
It is known that residents and traders appealed for this to Watson and the council when the lip-service “consultation” was conducted, before Watson went off and authorised the spending of £1.2million of public cash to do what he’d always intended to do in the first place.
Now, Watson is overseeing the pedestrianisation of a stretch of Croydon High Street, this time without bothering even to pretend there’s any consultation, not even with other public agencies. “The situation will be worse for us when they pedestrianise the High Street,” the resident said, expressing their fears. “I know the litter created by the night time economy is already a problem for market’s cleaning team. It means that they are unable to do any proper deep cleans.”
A response to these concerns, from Watson, the council or the police, has not yet been forthcoming.
But what Croydon really needed was another car park, surely? So the £1.2million is definitely money well spent.
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