Council to spend £50,000 on mural in council leader’s ward

Labour-run Croydon Council, struggling to make ends meet as the Tory Government continues to cut its annual grant, yesterday announced that it is to spend £50,000 to fund an art installation under a railway bridge in South Norwood.

The railway bridge on Portland Road, about to get possibly one of the most over-priced makeovers yet seen in the artwashing of the borough

The scheme is to be backed by the self-proclaimed community group, People for Portland Road.

The announcement of this extravagant expenditure on artwashing was made two weeks to the day before the local elections on May 3.

The railway bridge happens to be in the Woodside ward in which one of the councillors is Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council. Newman’s fellow Woodside ward councillor is Paul Scott. Scott is the chair of the council’s planning committee.

Scott, an architect by profession, is also the founder and (only) chair of People for Portland Road.

The announcement of a competition to “win” the £50,000 task of adorning the walkway alongside Portland Road was made in the Architects’ Journal.

The report on the website of the must-read magazine of the architecture profession stated, “The team chosen for the commission will transform the ‘dark, damp and unwelcoming’ railway bridge underpass into a ‘much brighter and more inviting place’ by creating an artwork which incorporates an existing 1980s mural.

Bridge too far: Tony Newman and Paul Scott, Labour councillors in Woodside

“The project, backed by local pressure group People for Portland Road, is part of wider plans to regenerate the historic suburb, which has suffered a prolonged period of economic decline. Proposals for the 26m-long underpass must improve the pedestrian experience while also allowing maintenance inspections of the bridge and being simple and affordable to run and maintain.

“In its brief, the council says it wants the commission ‘to transform the experience for pedestrians passing under the railway bridge. Currently the underside of the bridge is dark and unwelcoming and just a space to hurry through as quickly as possible.

“‘Through a combination of architectural lighting and other design elements, we are looking to create a space that feels welcoming, and safe and engaging to pass through – a physical and social “connector” rather than a barrier. We would welcome proposals that highlight the architecture and shapes of the underside of the bridge, and that reflect or acknowledge the rich heritage and local character of the area’.”

Got that?

There is a suggestion that there may be a fair amount of “slack” in the budget for this project. Previous murals painted on underpasses in Croydon have cost less than £12,000.

But consider this:

  • £50,000 could cover the cost of around 10,000 hot meals delivered by a Meals on Wheels service to the borough’s elderly or infirm.
  • £50,000 would help towards the cost of fixing nearly 1,000 pot holes in Croydon’s pock-marked roads.
  • Or £50,000 could be used towards the cost of hiring an additional social worker in the council’s under-pressure children’s services department.

Politics, eh? It’s all about choices.

The question here is: who made this one?

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13 Responses to Council to spend £50,000 on mural in council leader’s ward

  1. Marie Pace says:

    Abso-f*cking unreal. >:(

  2. farmersboy says:

    Get Captain Sensible on the case, I’m sure there’d be change out of £50000

  3. Deluded, daft and delusional: you can’t make a dark railway pavement which borders a continually busy through road into a destination of choice, you just can’t, it isn’t possible. There are much better uses for our £50k than yet another irrelevant, over-aspirational piece of silly corporate fantasy.

    “We are looking to create a space that feels welcoming, and safe and engaging to pass through – a physical and social “connector” rather than a barrier. Currently the underside of the bridge is dark and unwelcoming and just a space to hurry through as quickly as possible.” You couldn’t make it up if you tried and, if you did then no one with a scintilla of sense would dare publish it. Except the people at our council.

    What that dank hole needs is just better pavements and lots of bright, frequently renewed paint. Not more lousy pseudo-art as now adorns the walls of Surrey Street. No one ever looks at that and no one would ever look at anything under the railway bridge. You don’t want to linger there… you just want to get through as soon as you can and avoid being poisoned by the pollution. Silly.

  4. Dave Scott says:

    In the letter Newman wrote with the Council tax increase he said he wanted to make every penny count. How the hell does a £50k mural provide 1p of benefit? What planet is this bloke on?
    I have been writing to him every week trying to get a meaningful response out of him on a number of issues, but silence.
    Remember in his 2014 manifesto he said ‘We will be an accountable, open and transparent council’. Yeah right!

  5. The money should be used to reopen the public toilets, 10 yds. from the bridge, that will improve the local area.

  6. Charles Calvin says:

    There have been numerous ‘attempts’ to introduce various fancy decorative lighting arrangements in the under passes around the Southbank Centre. Most have been now been removed as they attract a high maintenance upkeep and look dowdy after a couple of years. In summary, a complete waste of £50,000.

    A much better use of Croydon Council Tax-payers’ money would be simply to paint the underpass and install a simple, good-quality lighting scheme that replicates daylight. This would cost approximately £15,000. Rest of the budget, £35,000, could be used for future maintenance and upkeep of these works, like cleaning it.

    However, Croydon Council are taking the short-term option and are not giving best value. Clearly Councillor Scott is also angling to give a bit of Croydon’s precious Council Tax to his architect mates.

  7. joeycan says:

    At the husting at St Peters Church last Thursday I listened spell-bound at Councillor Newman’s ‘huffing and puffing’ through the reasons why Labour have done little positive for my Borough in the last 4 years.

    In offering this stupid proposal the current Council are seeking to divert public attention from the crap they call a Labour Manifesto.

    Arno is correct and Charles Colvin even more positive, regarding a good quality lighting scheme. Unfortunately, the proximity of the local elections will preclude any official consideration of this hair-brained matter.

    The best option for spending this money which, amazingly, is still swilling around in the Council coffers, is to arbitrarily recruit two persons from the legions of unemployed, provide them with some white paint and ladders and get the bridge underside painted over a weekend. It shouldn’t cost more than £1,000, even with health and safety protection.

    Whoa!!.. does the bridge and supports belong to Network Rail?, if so, have they a public view on this farcical desecration of their paint work?

  8. A few months ago we had the article about Croydon canning the bicycle race due to budget cuts. I must admit that I was a fan of it and knew quite a few people who came to Croydon to watch it (and then spent money in Croydon). So, although there was a cost, there was also a benefit (including hopefully giving people impetus to get out on bikes). Now we instead have something pointless like this “art”. Clearly the Labour council think that they will transform Croydon with things like this, much like the “art” painted on the road as you head through South Croydon. I’m sorry, but it is just a waste of money.

    When you add up the cost of all these projects, including the awfully implemented “pedestrianisation” of the short stretch of road in central Croydon I hate to think how much money has actually been spent. It is criminal.

  9. derekthrower says:

    Are they going to paint the pedestrian crossings again in abstract patterns like in the South End of Croydon? That really has gone done well too and already are starting to fade and look jaded after a few weeks.
    The Bald Ego is now so detached from the opinon of the local public it seems he is taking it for granted that he will be re-elected.
    Let’s hope democracy serves some purpose in a couple of weeks’ time.

  10. And meanwhile in Old Coulsdon, we’ve got rivers of sewage flowing down the streets when it rains, trapping old people in their homes for hours without power.
    And when said effluent fills your home and you have to move out during restoration, you get to pay two lots of council tax (one for the inhospitable home, another lot for your ‘second’ property), yet there’s no money to fix the drainage infrastructure, weird that.
    But I am glad a walk under a bridge will be pleasant and ‘inviting’ for a few.

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