JEREMY CLACKSON reports on the rapidly growing problem at the side of many of the borough’s roads
As Mayor of London, never let it be said that Sadiq Khan doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Because everywhere you look around Croydon, at roadside verges which are supposed to be in the care of Transport for London, and there’s rapidly growing tufts of summer grass that would be worthy of the most unplayable rough at any Open golf championship.
It is symbolic of the drift in Sadiq Khan’s Mayoralty, as he struggles with stressed budgets at TfL, the collapse of the scheme to Oxford Street pedestrianisation, mounting questions over housing delivery and, sadly, proving unable to staunch the scourge of knife crime across the capital.
The May local election poll that was reported on election night by Inside Croydon did give Khan the backing of 49.7 per cent of the borough’s voters who said, two years into his term, that he is doing a good job, against 21.2 per cent saying he was doing a bad job.
If that same poll was conducted again today, might the numbers be different, after a bad month for Khan and six weeks of summer growth on our verges?
City Hall’s TfL is responsible for the A23 and the A232.
In Croydon, the A23 runs from Coulsdon to Norbury, including the Purley Way.
The A232 runs from West Wickham to Waddon, including the Wickham and Addiscombe Roads.
The verges have been left uncut for months and are growing, as Oscar Hammerstein II would have had it, as high as an elephant’s eye.
The grass outside Shirley shopping parade’s Trimmers has certainly not been cut. A No1 is long overdue.
Waddon’s Labour councillors have told their residents that TfL hopes to start cutting the verges by the end of this month. If true, it will be a welcome relief for some residents living near the Purley Way, who claim that the overgrowth is starting to block the paths into their homes.
There are some who argue for less frequent cutting of roadside verges, because it allows a more natural feel to places, can help foster wild flowers, and saves money. Around Croydon, there’s little evidence of any roadside nature reserves, though it is clear that money is not being spent.
TfL’s budget is in a mess, with subsidy from government withdrawn and Khan’s flagship policy of a fares freeze causing his officials predictable problems in finding funding for all their responsibilities.
Cutting Croydon’s verges are clearly not a priority for Mayor Khan, who yesterday confirmed that he will be seeking a second term in City Hall. How well that goes may hinge on matters as mundane as Khan’s letting the grass grow – it’s local issues on people’s doorsteps that motivate voters.
Voters don’t like to feel neglected, and unkempt, untouched grass verges send all the wrong messages.
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