Newman sends out distress signals over Westfield scheme

Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on the latest non-statement on lack of progress from the council leader

Is Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council, panicked by the lack of progress over Westfield’s long-promised £1.4billion redevelopment of the town centre?

Tony Newman’s tweet this morning. Is he begining to fret, much?

Certainly, a tweet Newman sent out this morning, despite his usual nuclear weapons-grade incoherence, seemed full of distress signals.

We quote Newman’s gibberish here, verbatim:

“Welcome letter re our next meeting from ⁦@urw_group⁩ stating Westfields clear commitment to & ⁦@yourcroydon⁩ as a ‘flagship scheme for the company’ in terms of timing letter recognises ‘Brexit Uncertainty’ & challenges re the UK ‘political outlook’.”

We’ll leave our loyal reader themselves to try to decipher what Newman was actually trying to say.

‘Look everyone!’ Newman’s tweeted extracts of the Westfield letter seems to be suggesting, ‘I’m important. They sent me a letter’

Curiously, Newman attached to his tweet some pictures of random sections of a letter, apparently sent to him by Unibail-Rodamco Westfield.

Was this Newman’s attempt at having a Neville Chamberlain moment: “I have in my hand a piece of paper… Peace in our time”?

Indeed, from what can be seen of the letter from Unibail-Rodamco Westfield, the now French-owned mall operators, it actually offers little more than the platitudes and lukewarm assurances that were issued a month ago, when the company announced that they were to “review” the Croydon scheme. And they have become no more convincing, or reassuring, with the passing of time.

Of course, Westfield is only one half of the “Croydon Partnership” which has been inflicting development blight on Croydon town centre for the past seven years. Hammerson, the other half, have also expressed reservations about the project, in the midst of their own serious corporate financing problems, as well as the retail downturn and the catch-all cop-out of “Brexit uncertainities”.

Newman failed to mention whether Hammerson, too, had inspired him with confidence in their “commitment” to Croydon.

For all the faux confidence Newman attempted to imply in his tweeted message, other straws in the wind from the Town Hall betray growing doubts at the council about Westfield and Hammerson’s intentions.

The past week has seen the distribution of Your Croydon, the 24-page quarterly magazine produced by the council using your Council Tax. It contains not a word about the redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre, which not so long ago was regarded as the single most important project in the borough’s history.

A double-page spread about town centre rdevelopment in the latest Your Croydon magazine, and not a word about Westfield. It’s almost as if it is not actually happening…

The magazine has the obligatory puffery from the council leader’s column. It has not a single word about Westfield.

There’s even a double-page spread feature under the bold headline “Our Growing Town Centre”.

And there, among all the developer-friendly copy about “cranes rising up across Croydon town centre”, detailing this tower block or that office scheme, you can see on the schematic map the old Whitgift Centre in the middle of all this activity. But not a word about the demolition work which was supposed to have started on the shopping centre this autumn, but which has now been postponed, indefinitely. 

It seems very likely that Newman this morning felt shamed into making some public gesture of his own importance to the project, because of events at City Hall last week.

There, Steve O’Connell, the Conservative London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, raised the stalled Westfield project with London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Mayor promised to intervene. It very much sounded like Khan is about to go over Newman’s head.

“The Greater London Authority and Transport for London continue to work closely with Croydon Council to ensure that the required infrastructure is delivered at the right time,” Khan said, as he gave an undertaking to have a meeting with the developers.

Tony Newman might get an invitation to tag along, too, if he behaves…

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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
This entry was posted in "Hammersfield", Business, Centrale, Croydon Council, London Assembly, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Steve O'Connell, Tony Newman, Whitgift Centre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Newman sends out distress signals over Westfield scheme

  1. Yea, verily, the Lord of Incoherence has spoken again and he confirms, in his own inimitable and jargon free manner, that Westfield may not occur, thus confirming the prediction of the present correspondent , the Prophet of Doom, who has predicted thus from the very inception of the mighty project.

  2. derekthrower says:

    Newman starting to show signs of cracking up with a display of the Monday morning blues. Perhaps we are beginning to see the realisation of the extent of the failure of his plan using the Developer’s friend Jo Negrini to front something that only ever produces disappointment and alienation to the residents of Croydon. No doubt he has received some news which has not yet been publicly revealed.

  3. Helen Benjamins says:

    Good gracious what a shambles. I wonder if Newman has thought about changing the name of Croydon yet. I could mention a suggestion or two but I doubt they’d be printed.

  4. Dave Scott says:

    The quality of his tweet sums up Croydon. A disjointed mess. Why on earth do people vote for this man?

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