Without a hint of irony, nor a shred of shame, Croydon Council this week announced the opening of a month-long exhibition to celebrate “100 years of council homes in the borough”.
“The 1919 Housing Act heralded a huge council house-building programme across the country in the decades since, including around 25,000 built in Croydon,” said a release issued by the Goebbels Institute for Truth and Transparency (previously the Croydon Council press office).
Nowhere in the press release did it mention that under the current Labour administration, there has not been a single new council home built in Croydon in the past five years.
Nor will there be any new council homes built in the borough before 2022, as those in charge of the Town Hall prefer instead to borrow more than £200million to spend on in-house house-builder Brick by Brick building mainly houses and “up-scale apartments” for private sale.
The flunkies in the media department in Fisher’s Folly did, however, manage to attribute a quote to Alison “Lying Cow” Butler, the £48,660 Labour council cabinet member responsible for the borough’s No Council Homes policy, who is supposed to have said that the Museum of Croydon exhibition, “Underlines how important social housing has been and still remains today.”
Not that you’d have noticed from the actions of Butler, her husband Paul Scott, the de facto chair of the planning committee (£27,670 in allowances) and council leader Tony Newman (£55,546) as they embraced the role of property developers, rather than providers of social housing. Deeds, not words, eh?
The irony-bypass council housing exhibition opens at the Museum of Croydon next week.
The first council homes built in the borough were in Godstone Road (1920), Woodside (1921) and Norbury (1921), with key groups being rehoused including ex-servicemen, First World War widows and clerks, postal workers and tram conductors – many people working in public service on relatively low wages, being provided with housing close to where they work.
In 21st Century Croydon, the council’s in-house house-builders have recently placed on the private market some three-bed houses with a price tag of £600,000 each – well out of the reach of today’s nurses, bus drivers or clerks.
The biggest council house-building programme in Croydon happened after the Second World War when work began to build New Addington in 1948. Croydon’s first high-rise residential blocks were built in 1957 in Lodge Lane and Violet Lane.
Some, though evidently not the Blairite council leadership, might find it troubling that council housing has, in Croydon, been turned into a historical curiosity, suitable as a museum exhibit, something to be fondly remembered, rather than a piece of essential civic provision, proving homes for families in the borough.
The exhibition runs throughout August, with a launch event on August 2 from 11am to 1pm open to members of the public. The exhibition at Croydon Clocktower will then be open for the rest of the month, from 9am-6pm on Mondays to Fridays, and until 5pm on Saturdays.
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