Well, this is awkward…
What does a bankrupt council, which at the end of December scrapped its dedicated anti-graffiti team, do about the spray-painted messages on the hoardings around a development by its loss-making house-builder Brick by Brick?
Last week, Muhammad Ali, the council cabinet member for unsustainable Croydon, confirmed to a virtual Town Hall meeting that “only graffiti using racist or inflammatory images”, or “using swear words, sexually explicit or obscene words and images” would be subject to council remedial action.
The pot-less council doesn’t have the money to pay for staff to clean up simple slogans or questions – largely because failing development company has stiffed the borough to the tune of £110million in unpaid interest repayments, loan payments and profits.
Kindred House is among the less-controversial, least-contested developments by Brick by Brick. It’s a 25-storey tower block next to the Croydon Flyover, built on part of a town centre car park, and which is supposed to deliver 128 homes. Though this build, like so many of Brick by Brick’s developments, is taking longer – and probably costing more – than was first suggested.
The messages which appeared on the site hoardings around the time of Councillor Ali’s explanation about the borough’s revised, more relaxed approach to graffiti hardly seem to fall into any of the proscribed categories which the slimmed-down street-cleaning service might handle.
What, after all, is offensive about the question: “Where is our money?”
Likewise, will the council be spending any Council Tax-payers’ money to have the message “Shame on Croydon Council” scrubbed off the hoardings of the Old Town site?
It could be a question to puzzle philosophers for several minutes…
The council’s dedicated anti-graffiti team were all made redundant, among more than 500 jobs being axed by the cash-strapped council as it struggles to balance a budget overspend this financial year of £66million.
“Under the streamlined service we have reviewed our approach to graffiti in the borough,” was the euphemism of choice for Councillor Ali last week.
“The priority will be offensive graffiti on council land and this will be defined by graffiti using racist or inflammatory images, used as an attack against a group or individual and also graffiti using swear words, sexually explicit or obscene words and images.”
Councillor Ali did not expand on whether the Brick by Brick company logo, now derided and despised by so many of the borough’s residents, fits in to any of those categories.
“For offensive graffiti on private land they will contact the landowner for the removal as quickly as possible,” he said.
“Unfortunately under this new service we will not be able to prioritise the removal of non-offensive graffiti at this moment in time.”
So it could be that the spray-painted questions about Brick by Brick’s piss-poor business performance could remain in place for some time to come.
Read more: Jenrick orders urgent inquiry into ‘unacceptable’ council
Read more: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt
Read more: £36m Brick by Brick ‘risk’ helped to trigger Croydon’s S114
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And this is what the utterly shameless Newman hopes to take charge of again!
It really is a shambles, in the truest sense, from top to bottom and all vestiges of the Newman regime and its acolyte clique need to be cleared from the mess before there can be any real regeneration of the Council, let alone the Borough.
The “new” council leader, Hamida Ali, seems sweet and well-meaning but ineffective and, unhappily, still stained by the legacy of her affiliation and subservience to the old Don Antonio mob.
Tabula Rasa is what we need.
“Sweet and well-meaning but ineffective” Nobody who heard her interview with Vanessa Feltz could disagree with that.
While the labour councillors were making all these decisions “behind closed doors” , what on earth were the conservative councillors doing? Were they asleep on the job? Surely there must be a way to block poor decisions or at least take it to a judge for a decision. To go for years just spending is madness. Is this how they spend their own money ?
If one group has a majority, they put forward a plan and, however crackpot it is, if the ones with the loudest voices (yep, in 2021 they take votes by shouting “Aye!” or “No!”) shout loudest, it normally sails through.
There is one notable case where Newman “approved” £100m borrowing and the purchase of the Croydon Park Hotel without even bothering to go through that charade.
And according to him, he did nothing wrong…
No, Robin. This is how they spend our money.