I am flabbergasted by the state of things.
Croydon contains some of the most deprived areas in London which rely heavily on services the council provides.
It is deeply concerning and personally I feel betrayed by those who we elected to steer the council in the right direction.
I voted for Labour at the local elections as I wanted to support a party that’s main goals are to support the vulnerable, bring about social justice and to fund our much-needed essential services. But the opposite has happened and already I am seeing council services, vital services, cut back to balance the books.
Yes, the effect of austerity cannot be minimised, but the commercial property investments that have been made by the council should never have been allowed to happen. How come seemingly no other council in London, let alone the rest of the country, is in this situation?
One of the biggest casualties of this crisis is trust.
Very few people trust the council now. The council has minimised the importance of this crisis right up until the point where some of the leaders jumped ship.
It is refreshing to see Hamida Ali, the new leader of the council, be candid with the situation and take responsibility for it. However, trust takes years to build and seconds to destroy.
Every criticism given to the previous administration was dismissed and chastised. The tireless reporting from Inside Croydon which was treated as “fake news” by the council’s leadership, yet a great deal of it has come true….
Perhaps instead of dismissing criticism, council leaders should have embraced it and learnt from it. Watching council webcasts of Conservative councillors being shouted at by senior members of the Labour administration was just a disgrace to democracy. We all should be promoting collaboration, not confrontation.
Even outside of the financial mess, we have Brick by Brick, who are one of the most unaccountable organisations in existence. They lie to get what they want (I can prove this) and they have no interest in working with communities to build much-needed housing.
Apart from a select group of councillors and dedicated council workers, I have lost all faith in the council and need to see a real turn around in things before the next elections. And that isn’t just me, as a representative of my area through NARA: residents feel massive distrust of their council, they are disgusted, horrified and scared of the future. They rightfully want a change in management and we will all be looking at other options in the future.
If I could make one suggestion to help the council regain some trust, it would be to get out there and speak to residents, hold Zoom calls like they do in the United States, where members of the public can hold institutions to account.
They should actually speak to us, ask us what we think and what they can do to help us.
No more stonewalling, no more sticking heads in the sand.
Stop treating us like serfs who are stupid and won’t understand what is going on.
Again, thank god for Inside Croydon, who seem to be our only window into the inner runnings of the council.
Hands up councillors: “We” made a mistake, “We” want to make up for it.
- Scott Ainsworth-Payne is the chair of the New Addington Residents’ Association, but has written this in a personal capacity. He certainly was not asked to make the references to this website that are included in his Commentary
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