Scott called out over ‘gentrification’ of housing in Croydon

Taking a knee: Saturday’s carefully socially-distanced BLM protest in Park Hill. Not all speakers were complimentary about the council

JANE NICHOLL reports on how Black Lives Matter activists responded to councillors’ ‘meaningless words’ at a community-led event at Park Hill

Croydon Council’s failing housing policies cannot escape criticism, even at a Black Lives Matter protest which some leading Labour councillors sought to hijack and turn into a campaign event for their own political ambitions.

Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest in Park Hill was attended by a crowd of around 300, and unlike the demonstrations in central London, there were no pissed-up members of the far-right making an embarrassing ugly spectacle of themselves, urinating everywhere and disrupting the afternoon.

There were two full hours of speeches in the sunshine, mostly met with rapturous applause and shouts of “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police”.

There was a rousing speech about the much-loathed Lunar House, which houses the Home Office’s distrusted immigration department, and some of the crowd later moved on to protest outside the building.

But not before a scathing critique of the council’s gentrification of Croydon and its effects on immigrants and the black community, which was greeted with cheering and applause.

Patsy Cummings: tried to use the BLM event to boost her London Assembly election campaign

The Mayor of Croydon, Humayun Kabir, and Labour councillor Patsy Cummings spoke to the crowd, which included a cluster of other councillors who were huddled safely together, sitting by the front of the stage.

They included Paul Scott and his delightful wife Alison Butler, the Richard and Judy of the Town Hall. They looked like they were at Woodstock rather than a BLM protest.

They were in for a shock when BLM activist Sam Roberts got up to make his speech about gentrification, which was directed specifically at Scott and Butler, delivering a blistering attack on their housing policies in Croydon.

“I made the speech just because it wasn’t right,” he said.

“Someone brought up the point of gentrification earlier on and explained how that was an issue in London and with immigrant and black communities. Then I heard the Mayor and councillors from Croydon Council come up and give their talks – their meaningless words.

“I saw Paul Scott and Alison Butler and I thought it isn’t right to just sit there and not be called out for what they are doing to Croydon. The protest was community-led and they’re sitting there all smug as if they’re not selling off the community.

“It just had to be said.”

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4 Responses to Scott called out over ‘gentrification’ of housing in Croydon

  1. Lewis White says:

    I normally associate “gentrification” with tastefully painted front doors, attractive front gardens, well-tended wheely bins, and , in the high streets, coffee shoppes, craft bread bakeries and bars selling expensive but tasty ales. I want everyone to be able to enjoy these things, and that we regenerate the borough, so that everyone gets decent, affordable housing, a greener environment, and community facilities for young people, and housing suited to all the age groups..

    Organic vegan pie in the sky maybe.

    I think that in Croydon, we are not facing the wholesale pricing out of local people by the trendification of areas such as has happened in a few parts of London, nor large scale regeneration, but we are having incremental development and replacement of buildings with flats and “backland development” which many people object to, but can in fact be very attractive places to live.

    The Council is doing (through Brick bty Brick) and giving planning permission to a lot of good developments in my view, albeit that the pages of Inside Croydon reveal some bad examples from Brick by Brick and others. They are all “developers”.

    Without development and developers, we would be homeless.

  2. sebastian tillinger says:

    When my neighbour saw a McLaren motorcar in the road recently he asked the builder on the site alongside if it belonged to the developer. The answer was no, he’s a buyer, he’s bought two units and will knock them together.

    This is the bit Scott doesn’t get.

    We all know about the gentrification of London over the past 10 years, but Croydon’s untested SPD2 planning guidance has introduced something that might be known as Gentrification ll. This second phase of gentrification is happening when demand for living space is already outstripping supply and we are building the wrong type of housing. Increasingly, developments emerge as the provenance of the very rich. This type of property quickly becomes the domain of speculators. Many of the projects Scott’s Committee gives Consent to are sold on to other investors before the ground is even broken and ‘affordable housing’ is not even mentioned.

    The thing Scott lacks in his endeavours to be some sort of fantasy Patrick Abercrombie figure is his inability to get any community by-in. And I suggest that’s as much about his personality and style as the lack of thinking and inappropriateness of what he’s trying to force through.

  3. Lewis White says:

    With regard to the national picture, my impression has been that a certain M Thatcher put paid to new-build council housing, which together with the right to buy, at reduced prices, mashed up the whole development scene. The numbers of new homes has never caught up. But I might be wrong. The problem with the numbers game is that it is a blunt instrument– what about conversions and improvements? Politicians only ever talk about numbers. Size of homes, and improvements, never.

    The development of new properties (mainly flats) and their purchase by investors, and subsequent renting out at high rents, is unsustainable if people can’t afford the flats, but the reality seems that people are paying more and more for a (rented or mortgaged) roof over their heads, due to “Supply and demand”. Sad, and wrong !

    What are the possible solutions?
    On rents, a new “Fair rents czar and a national department of Fair Rent asessment”? Legislation to make all rented properties subject to this?. Control on sales, to make sure that buyers are going to live in their properties?.

    On supply, “concrete over the Green Belt”?. I don’t think so. The countryside is lovely, and car travel would go through the roof, as well. The roads are falling to bits as well.

    “Urban renewal “? Yes, that rings my bell, and add “Rural renewal” too. In my view, every tiown and village needs to be looked at and renewed. New villages and village expansions. Yes.

    Who are the “Gentry”? Well paid “yuppies” ? Or retired baby boomers bored with the suburbs?
    They must be coming from somewhere. Is everyone still moving in to London and deserting the North, East and West? Or are these young Londoners? . They clearly can’t be care home carers , NHS cleaners, or migrant farm workers. They don’t get paid enough.

    Looks like Councils need to be allowed to build council homes again. With central Government support, and without taking risks with Council tax payer’s money. Plus meaningful public engagement. But the public also need to be mature, informed, and not NIMBYs.

  4. Evren Turan says:

    I fully support gentrifying Croydon as much as possible..

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